Each year thousands of veterans take their own lives: over 8,000 in 2010 to be exact, according to a 2012 Suicide Data Report published by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Just recently a group of veterans, with their hands touching a sword formed from World Trade Center debris, pledged to not become another suicide statistic. They promised one another they would forgo committing suicide and instead seek help.
In a report from The Washington Post, author Susan Svrluga detailed a brief but powerful story about a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps, Lyndon Villone. After leaving the service, Villone attempted to contact a former military buddy but never heard back. He later found out his friend had taken his own life. That same year, two other friends followed suit.
"It's about the brotherhood," said Boone Cutler, another veteran who attended the pledge service, according to The Washington Post. Cutler had called a friend, a former veteran, to talk about another military comrade they knew who committed suicide. While talking, both admitted they had thought about doing the same.
At the service, a woman named Margie Miller recited the pledge. Part of it read: "I will not take my own life by my own hand until I talk to my battle buddy first. My mission is to find a mission to help my warfighter family." Miller's son was a former Marine who shot himself dead at the age of 22. She recalled talking to him before his death and how he appeared to be happy.
If you're a veteran who is thinking about taking your life, seek help by contacting the veteran's crisis line at 1-800-273-8255. The free line is open at all hours every day to veterans whether or not they're registered with the VA.