How could we respond to our national commander's call to action regarding the tragedy of veteran suicides? Some of our post members participated in programs such as the recent April 25 Training Tuesday session, "#Be the One: Talking About Suicide Without Stigma." We looked for ways to help, realizing that we were not professionals trained in one-on-one treatment.
Commander Troiola's call to action kept us searching for a way. Then, like other posts around the country, we found our voice in an "awareness hike." It seemed to be our best way to bring attention to suicide prevention, perhaps not only to our fellow veterans but to everyone.
We contacted our Wisconsin department HQ, which had conducted its own 2.2-mile hike and carried 22 stones representative of 22 suicides per day. We borrowed the flag signed and carried by the 22 people who hiked together previously during the department convention in Green Bay. Our goal became to hike to the State Capitol on Wisconsin Veterans Day, April 26.
Legislative chairs and members of Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Disabled American Veterans and The American Legion happened to be planning a concerted effort to influence our legislators to consider and pass necessary bills for the benefit of our fellow veterans, especially the disabled. We joined this action to bring up Be the One. We were ready, come rain or shine. We marched together, over 250 strong.
If you're a veteran in crisis or concerned about one, contact the Veteran Crisis Line to receive 24/7 confidential support. Dial 988, then press 1. Or you can chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat or text 838255. You are not alone.