A group of vets who began a cross-country walk in June to raise awareness of the high rate of suicide among veterans is set to reach its destination on Veterans Day. The vets who make up Walk of Life left Santa Monica, California, on June 16 with a plan to make it to Washington, D.C., on November 11. The men are walking 22 to 25 miles a day, six or seven days a week. As group member and Iraq War veteran Adam Lingo recently told a Tulsa news station, “Twenty-two veterans a day commit suicide, so our goal is to make it…across the country from coast to coast in 22 weeks.”
The vets, who have chronicled their trip on Facebook, describe their mission as “an effort to spotlight the overwhelming amount of daily veteran suicides, spread the word about agencies that offer real help, connect people to people who truly understand Veteran struggles and most importantly, let those who are struggling know they don’t walk alone.” They point to few resources in the form of organizations or program that are adequately set up to help veterans suffering from PTSD and depression. They cite “stigma, red tape and mistrust” as issues further complicating veterans’ ability to get the help they need. Referring to the overall situation as “heartbreaking and unacceptable,” they embarked on the walk as a mission to “do what we do best: leave no man behind.”
Relying on data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Military Times “solidifies the disturbing mental health crisis” related to veterans’ suicides. According to MT, “In 2014, the latest year [data was] available, more than 7,400 veterans took their own lives, accounting for 18 percent of all suicides in America. Veterans make up less than nine percent of the U.S. population.”
Our veterans’ benefits attorneys are troubled by the staggering numbers of veterans who take their own lives. One well-established risk factor is the absence of benefits and services. According to the Military Times, “70 percent of veterans who took their own lives were not regular users of VA services.” Our firm’s mission is to make sure that all eligible veterans are able to access VA benefits and health services.
If you or a veteran you love has trouble accessing VA benefits, Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban is prepared to help anywhere in the United States. Call us at 866-866-VETS or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
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