AWARENESS PROGRAM “22 EVERYDAY”
Suicide is a big problem and a silent killer that does not get addressed and talked about as it should be. It is estimated that in the U.S.A., approximately 20 veterans commit suicide per day. We, on the “22 Everyday” Committee, want to help make a difference and change those numbers to zero per day. The following are excerpts from the Department of Veterans Affairs 2014 Suicide Data Sheet. In the State of New York alone, 225 veterans committed suicide. The following is a breakdown by age groups: among the 18-34 year old there were 33 suicides; among the 35-54 year old there were 70 suicides; among the 55-74 year old there were 86 suicides; and the 75+ age group there were 36 suicides. Clearly this problem can arise in any stage of life, leaving entire families in disarray and questioning whether there were signs and why no one saw them.
There are signs and symptoms that could possibly raise a red flag that someone may be crisis. Some of the signs to look for are: appearing sad/depressed most of the time; sleeplessness, anxiousness, agitation, neglecting personal welfare, deteriorating physical appearance, withdrawing from family and friends, frequent mood changes, losing interest in all activities, talking as though life is not worth living, engaging in reckless behaviors, seeking excessive access to pills, a sudden, out-of-character interest in firearms, and talking as if there is no solution to their problems.
There are many reasons as to why a veteran might choose suicide as a way to cope with their problems that are not always obvious to the people who surround them. Suicide does not just affect the veteran, but their family and friends tremendously too. Reach out yourself, if you cannot get the person in crisis to see someone in private or at the Veterans Hospital. You, as a friend, or a family member, can make the call. There are suicide prevention hotlines such as 1-800-273-talk, which was initiated in the State of New York with the passage of the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act of 2007.
Together, we can make a difference in one life, and by doing that we will affect everyone around them. If you, or someone you know is in an emotional crisis, please know this and tell them that there are people out there to talk to who care and help is available. Encourage them to call the suicide Prevention Hotline or make the call yourself to find out how you can get help for yourself or to help someone else at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Submitted by Loretta Dibrino
Committee Member - “22 Everyday”
The 22 Everyday Program committee was established at the 2016 Fall SEC meeting. This committee started with nine members, and we now have twenty- four members with 50% dedicated hard-working veterans. The Department of New York appointed Jim Benware, PDC as Chairman for the 22 Everyday Program for NY.
The committee has an EIN number with a checking account to assist purchasing materials. Committee members have set up tables at community events with donation jars and their own fund-raising events have raised a nice sum of money; however, various Post, Riders, and Sons of AMVETS have given some great donations as well.
Packages of suicide materials have been mailed to committee members and various post on request. Materials have been purchased when not available through VA Centers as well. We have purchased two roll-up “22 Everyday” Banners, and a table cover that is in circulation on request from committee members. The committee is in the process of purchasing a dress type shirt with the “22 Everyday” insignia for committee members, and three dozen polo shirts to sell as a fund-raiser. A “22 Everyday” pin is in working progress.
“22 Everyday” Program meetings are held at both fall and spring SEC meetings and convention. E-mails are continuously in circulation that fulfills our communication gap. It is amazing what a group of people/committee can accomplish when no-one person wants to take all the credit – Great team work.
Thanks to Kevin Matteson, 1st District National Coordinator for his guidance with this program. Many thanks to Tom Donwen, National Coordinator for all the help he has given the committee, and all the materials he has supplied in the past few years.
This is a great program that National AMVETS has established for our veterans.
God Bless America
Veterans Serving Veterans
Department of New York