Group Takes To Capitol Steps To Bring Awareness Of Veteran Suicide

Monday, February 22nd 2016, 6:16 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

Veterans and supporters used the steps of the state Capitol as their stage to draw attention to the epidemic of veteran suicide. 

Members of the group did 22 push ups to represent the 22 veterans who commit suicide, on average, every day.

It was retired Maj. Andrew White's job to keep his men alive on the battlefield. 

Now, it breaks his heart that he can't keep them alive here at home. His best friend committed suicide. 

“He came home, got himself very, very intoxicated and drove himself right into a wall. Got in his car and killed himself that way. It’s painful,” White said.

At this rate, more veterans will have died by their own hand than died on the battlefield. 

That's why these folks came out to the Capitol, as a reminder that "We support the troops" is more than just a bumper sticker slogan. It means employing them or just saying thanks. 

“Go shake their hand and say thank you,” U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin said. “You don’t know if that will change a person’s life just by saying thank you.”

Congressman Steve Russell is a combat veteran. He said for a lot of returning vets, readjusting to civilian life is hard. Too hard. 

“As somebody that has had to do terrible things in battle, I’ve handled flesh and blood. I’ve had to do horrible things, but it was in defense of my country. And you come home you’ve crossed those lines that most human beings never have to cross,” he said.

White agreed. 

The uniform isn’t just a piece of clothing. It’s our identity. It’s who we are,” White said. “When we take it off we somewhat lose that identity. We lose focus. We lose our guidance. We are no longer that same person anymore.”

The group said we can save veterans lives just by helping them feel useful again and that we owe it to veterans. 

“It’s a painful thing because I know we can’t save them all.  I know these folks here can’t save them all,” White said. “But we’re damn gonna try hard.”