Veterans, community walk for suicide prevention

Published: Sep. 9, 2023 at 4:49 PM EDT
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CARTHAGE, New York (WWNY) - Carthage VFW Post 7227 is looking to spread the word and take the steps needed to stop veteran suicides.

“One is too many, twenty-two is way too many. If we can draw an awareness to 22 veterans committing suicide every day, then I think we should be doing that everyday,” said Mike Booth, Trustee of the Carthage VFW Auxiliary 7227.

Recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs shows that number is now closer to 17 deaths a day, but Booth still stresses the severity of the problem. It’s one reason why he was joined by members of the community and military personnel to march for the cause.

“It’s a big problem. It’s kind of way to show that there is an awareness out there, and showing people that there’s help,” said Booth.

“Coming out here and supporting events like this and letting the community know that this still is an issue. There still is a lot of work to be done,” said Anthony Atler, Former Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army.

For Atler, the problem of soldier suicides is personal.

“It’s actually really emotional. I’ve actually lost two buddies while in the service to suicide,” said Alter.

He says one of the biggest steps to take is breaking the stigmas associated with mental health struggles.

“One day when you find yourself not being able to talk to anybody about it, that’s where you go down the rabbit hole, and that’s where things get dark. So getting away of that stigma of just sucking it up and moving on, that’s the big one. That’s step one,” said Alter.

All money raised Saturday will go to supporting un-housed veterans dealing with mental health or other serious struggles.