Oklahoma Non-Profit Raising Awareness About Veteran Suicide
OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma's Finest are helping to shed light on a dark statistic. Our nation's veterans are taking their own lives at the rate of nearly one every hour.
An average of 22 veterans commit suicide every day in the U.S. and a new campaign is spreading the message, "Even one a day is one too many."
A non-profit made up of veterans is trying to stop these suicides.
“I took enough medicine that a horse should have died, but God spared me and I believe it's for this message right here,” said U.S. Army Veteran Paul Smith.
Oklahoma veterans with the non-profit, Honoring America's Warriors, are on a new mission to save as many of their brothers and sisters as they can.
“I've had the call that came in around 11 o'clock, ‘Hey, I'm putting a gun in my mouth right now,' and at that time, it's like, ‘Hey buddy, I'm on the way,'” said U.S. Army Veteran Russell Wolfe.
Honoring America's Warriors has launched a national campaign to raise awareness about the alarming rate of veteran suicides. More than 8,000 vets take their lives each year.
“For a lot of us as warriors, when we feel like we've dishonored ourselves or other people, the honorable thing to do is to take your life,” Smith told News 9.
Smith said it is hard reintegrating to civilian life, especially after war. America is losing more veterans to suicide than combat.
“It's an epidemic and it's one of those things that we say, there are more taking their own lives than were killed in combat,” said Maj. Gen. Rita Aragon with the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs.
Employees with the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitative Services gave their own money to Honoring America's Warriors in a check presentation on Thursday. The money will help provide therapeutic activities that assist veterans with depression or anxiety that could lead to suicide.
“Why wouldn't I do it today, why wouldn't I do the same thing I did a few years ago,” Smith asked. “Because I have a unit again,” he answered proudly.
The group also does a lot of outdoor activities, hunting and fishing trips that provide veterans some quality time with other veterans.