Support group helps prevent suicide among service veterans

Maryland

THURMONT, Md. (WDVM) — With the Memorial Day weekend approaching, we pay special tribute to our service veterans. And there is a national organization addressing the high rate of suicide among them.

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Dan Maillard had the exciting job as crew on Marine One, the presidential helicopter. He made frequent trips to Camp David and has staffed the president on disaster relief missions.

Now active with Irreverent Warriors, he is concerned about the high suicide rate among vets. It is, he says, the result of social isolation when they finish their tours of duty and no longer have their network of friends and support groups. To keep these veterans out of a “dark place,” Irreverent Warriors schedules hikes and peer-to-peer activities to build new friendships in their community.

“Twenty or more veterans each day commit suicide,” says Maillard. “That is an alarming number when you consider the demographics. It is the highest demographic among all suicides. It is something that veterans take very seriously. It’s very painful.”

After their discharge, Maillard says, veterans feel “a of loss of purpose. It also generally just creates isolation. Isolation leads to poor mental health, which can then lead to other physical ailments, social separation anxiety.”

Irreverent Warriors has 44 events scheduled for veterans over the summer. Their network and supporters stay connected through VET Tv (Veteran Television).

Are you struggling with thoughts of suicide? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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