Annual Veteran Suicide Awareness March spotlights veterans’ mental health | WFRV Local 5

GREEN BAY, Wisconsin (WFRV) – More than a thousand people gathered for the tenth annual Veteran Suicide Awareness March. Veterans marching say the event is the perfect opportunity to honor those who lost their lives.

Veterans who support the march say they hope to empower those who may be struggling mentally.

“They are loved, they have support, they are not alone. There are people who go through that every day and I wish they would see that,” said veteran Tate Shafer.

The march sheds light on the mental health of those who serve. Shafer says he’s lost several friends to suicide and he’s marching to honor them.

“Due to my mental health, I lost two friends in 2018 to honor their memory and show support for other soldiers who may be going through this mental trauma, to show they are not alone and to speak up,” Shafer explained.

Research shows that 17.6 veterans die by suicide every day, Chelsea Kocken, board member of Helping Out Our American Heroes, says the community is doing everything it can to reduce that number.

Today provides that sense of community and resources to focus on mental health. You know this is something that’s so often overlooked and taken for granted that you know simple things can really improve your overall mental health,” Kocken said.

Kocken says paying attention to veterans is the easiest way to make a difference.

“This isn’t that big a deal, we need to have a strategic plan, that’s just hey, be aware of the issue that exists in our community, pay attention to the people around you and remember how simple it is Just to make that small impact and it could really make a difference,” Kocken said.

The event is scheduled to take place again next year. Organizers say they expect to raise more than $100,000 for veteran services.

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