Jackie Walorski VA Clinic hosts Veteran Suicide Prevention Awareness Walk
MISHAWAKA, Ind - Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for veterans and at the Jackie Walorski VA Clinic in Mishawaka, they're trying to do something to change those heart-wrenching numbers.
One way they're combatting it is through their Veteran Suicide Prevention Awareness Walk, held Tuesday afternoon in the midst of National Suicide Prevention Week.
Linda Cripe, who served 12 years in the U.S Army Police, is saddened by the fact more than 6,000 vets take their own lives every year in the U.S.
"The reason I'm here is, obviously cause I'm a veteran and I feel like this is very important, there's so many veterans that do commit suicide, they're homeless,” said Cripe.
The number one clinical priority of the VA clinic is now suicide prevention and Scott Ralya, the community engagement partnership coordinator at the clinic, has a positive message for those who may struggle with suicidal thoughts.
“We wanted to do this to give back to the community and we wanted to as well promote the idea that there is hope for people that suffer from chronic suicidal ideations, there's hope for people that survived suicide loss as well,” said Ralya.
The walking trail is marked with different myths and facts about suicide prevention to emphasize that it is preventable.
Another VA coordinator, Angie Whereatt, is passionate about the mission because she's seen first-hand some of the suffering veterans go through.
“My husband is a Marine and went through some struggles, and being able to do this and give back to our men and women who have served means a great deal to me,” said Whereatt.
They even had the Fort Wayne Music Therapy Band on hand at the walk. It's entirely composed of veterans and the lead drummer, Beverly Wise, is passionate about using music to help people through difficult times.
“Personally i have known a lot of people who's either in that situation or have experienced it with their family and friends and I do find it very important, and veterans have a very big problem with this and I want to make sure at least I do my part and the band does their part to support this,” said Wise.
Cripe says she found a lifeline through support groups and wants other vets to know there is help out there.
“Personally, I'm in a couple self-help groups which has been amazing through the VA, and they do focus a lot on suicide prevention. Anytime you call there's a number you can type in to get to the suicide prevention line.”
The National Suicide Prevention hotline is 988, and then if you press 1, you will be connected with the veteran's crisis hotline. It's all free and anonymous.