By Howard Kuker, Post 125
Late one night I read an article about a female Air Force Captain who had committed suicide. She had also been a combat veteran. Everyone who knew her had thought she was fine. But the sad fact was she suffered from PTSD–a disorder that far too often proves to be fatal.
I soon learned the shocking statistic: approximately 20 combat veterans commit suicide EVERY DAY in the U.S.! Up until 2017, the number of veteran suicides was 22 a day, but a new VA study was released with a change in the right direction. However, this statistic does not include military spouses and contractors, who also are at high risk for suicide.
To illustrate the enormity of this number: if you take the number of all the casualties of U.S. wars fought since 2001, that number does NOT equal one year of U.S. veteran suicides.
This is a shameful national tragedy! As far as I’m concerned, stopping veteran suicide is our most pressing issue.
After I read about the Air Force Captain and the 22 doomed veterans, I decided to do something about it — immediately! I reasoned that the best way to get the word out was with a YouTube video. That night I started composing a script.
The next day, I telephoned many people to help with this project. I’d need someone to film the video, someone to edit it and also a place where to film, which, believe it or not, turned out to be a major challenge. A number of colleges turned me down. Plus I had to locate 21 combat veterans. For the purpose of this video, I was number 22.
After countless calls for donated help, I found Phil Falcone, producer of “Joe’s War” (please go see). Finally, after three stressful months, we were ready to film at the Deal, N.J. JCC, home of Post 125. I was honored to have five WWII vets, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan vets to be in the video. It was a fantastic day.
Since then I have been on TV twice, met with N.J. Congressman Frank Pallone, and made the Garden State Film Festival. I hand out cards daily for the video and average about 600 a month–if you’re within hands reach of me, you’re getting a card.
The video is a call to action, not awareness. Please call, write and/or e-mail your Congressman and President and tell them to stop this (please also send them my video).
To watch my video go to www.youtube.com or any search engine, for example Google, and type in “22 a day no way.”
Volume 72. Number 1. Spring 2018