By Global Security Staff
There are little words for the often shocking and traumatic impact that takes place when combat veterans unexpectedly take their own lives. It is a widespread problem facing the US military community, often bringing disastrous consequences and unspeakable loss.
The pains, losses and dangers of combat are known to take an often invisible, yet powerful toll upon servicemembers and families who risk all in war.
Given the pervasiveness of this problem, International security company Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions is planning to host a commemorative march on Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo - to remember and honor servicemembers who have committed suicide.
The event, slated to take place on July 21, 2018, is called “22K for 22 a day” to engender broad support, raise money and show respect for the 22 veterans who kill themselves every day.
Hundreds of participants will participate in a 22-kilometer march carrying 22 kilos, raising money for charities committed to helping prevent veteran suicide. The effort seeks to broaden support for the cause and help inspire at times needed intervention for those at risk, said Wayne Hales, Project Manager, Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions.
The upcoming march holds a special significance to Torres employees and all servicemembers stationed at the camp. Last year, a young Army E-4 K9 handler, deployed at Camp Bondsteel, took his own life.
“No one saw this coming and it was a shock to everyone. He was very close with the Torres Armed Guards working on Camp Bondsteel. We will have a dedication to this young man in remembrance of his selfless duty,” Hales said. “He was very well liked.”
Approximately 80% of Torres employees working on Camp Bondsteel are veterans, he added.
The original 22K for 22 a Day, in June of 2016, was attended by approximately 200 service members; US and NATO contributing members included Germans, Polish, Hungarians and Danish. The event raised 1,500 Euros strictly by donation, sending the money to the Navy SEAL foundation, Hales said.
“We expect 400-500 to attend on the 21st of July, 2018. We are requiring an entry fee of $15 Euro and we are hoping to raise approximately $7,500 for a worthy military charity,” Hales said.
The persistence of the problem and the importance of the mission has inspired Torres AES CEO Jerry Torres to explore ways to expand the program to other locations in the US and around the world.
"I can't think of a more important cause to support, than honoring the men and women who give all for us. We hope to grow the program to reach and impact as many communities as possible," said Jerry Torres, Torres CEO.
The rate of veteran suicides in recent years, often driven by combat-related PTSD, has not subsided and continues to be extremely tragic, traumatic and unfortunate for the US military community. The problem is inspiring a wide array of actions from family members, veterans and US military personnel searching to address, offset or decrease the problem.
Many servicemembers who take their own lives are among those engaged in the most intense, dangerous and costly military operations.
“Almost everyone who has served in the military knows someone who has taken their own life. The purpose of the 22K for 22 A Day is to raise awareness,” Hales added.
The pain of the loss, and the commitment to cherishing the memories of servicemembers who fought and served, is astronomical. The injuries may at times seem invisible, yet they are as real and impactful as any kind of physical injury caused by combat.
“Just because you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist,” said Gordon Pullen, Site Manager, Torres AES.
Service members, families and members of the military community often express a powerful sentiment, perhaps more substantial than words can capture, that these servicemembers will forever be remembered.
While the physical existence of those who took their lives may no longer be present, the spirit, resolve and duty to county, will doubtless endure as a timeless force.