LUBBOCK, TX - For several years, the troubling statistic by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs had been 22 veterans died each day to suicide. Now, that number according to the VA is down to 20 each day, however, local veteran support groups say there's still a lot of work left to be done.
In addition to those 20, there is also at least one suicide death daily by someone actively serving.
Danny Koch is a member of the Chapter 0900 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Remember Our Heroes. He grew up in the military town of Killeen, Texas and his son served in Iraq, where he was injured by an IED. He says these experiences have influenced his family to become involved in local veteran support groups.
"I was really surprised when the number reduced from 22 to 20, but in reality it's 20 veterans that die by suicide daily, and one active soldier, so really it's almost in the middle, 21," said Koch. "Whether it be 20 or 22, it is still too large, that equals more than 7000 suicide deaths by veterans annually. 20% of all American suicides are veterans now, and whats even more tragic, many are Vietnam vets."
Koch explained there are number of reasons for this, which may include veterans suffering from PTSD, a feeling of isolation or the feeling that they returned home to an "ungrateful" community.
"And they survive for 30-40 years, even flourish, and then they die by suicide. So 20 suicides daily by veterans, one active soldier," said Koch. "Right now, less than 1% of our sons and daughters wear the uniform of our country, it's one of the lowest participation in the history of the United States. So few doing so much."
To create awareness on the issue, Chapter 0900 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Remember Our Heroes will be selling caps with the number "20" stitched onto the front available for purchase at Friday night's "Night of Courage" event at MCM Elegante.
The event is open to the community. There is no admission cost, but donations are gladly accepted and will go toward the "Monument of Courage" which supports local Gold Star Families and Purple Heart recipients.
The monument will be built November 11, 2018.
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