“Twenty two a day, you never think that it’s going to hit our community,” says Tom Sheppard.
Across the nation, twenty two veterans take their own lives each day.
And veterans, young and old, in Roscommon are working to raise awareness, hoping to see that number decrease.
That’s why one Roscommon vet created a larger than life American flag.
A patriotic display with a serious message.
9 and 10’s Megan Atwood and photojournalist Jeremy Erickson show us the project.
“They just don’t relate and can’t fit back in and sometimes just try to take what they think is the easy way out,” says Ron Schreiber, a veteran who served for twenty three years in the Air Force.
Veterans in Roscommon County are working to raise awareness to prevent more veterans from taking their lives. Twenty two do in the USA every day.
“There are a lot of veterans out there that aren’t getting the help that they need and the outreach, as much as we try, we just aren’t getting to everybody,” Schreiber goes on to say. He has volunteered his time with the VA for twenty years.
Ken Melvin is a Vietnam War veteran. He says the idea for this wooden flag display started with a tragic loss close to home.
“Last year in November we had a veteran suicide, self-inflicted gunshot. It was an older Vietnam veteran. This year in October we had a younger veteran, a father of five, take his own life and it affected me deeply,” Melvin goes on to say.
But, many don’t realize how many vets take their own lives. And that’s why they say raising awareness is the most important part.
“With what Ken started here, its touched a lot of hearts in our neighborhood so it is something special, but it also reaches a lot of people’s souls,” says Tom Sheppard, who works as a post veteran service officer. He served for twenty seven years-twenty one with the Army National Guard, and six with the Coast Guard.
Sometimes all a veteran needs is someone who understands and that’s what each of these vets do, working for the county’s veteran’s affairs committee.
“Just having someone to talk to who is familiar with your situation, what you’ve been through. You’ve served in combat and it’s not like living a daily life out in the street,” Ron Schreiber goes on.
“It’s hard to fathom that the people you’re with, you work with and then all of a sudden they’re gone. Because people at home don’t understand what happens inside their head,” concludes Tom Sheppard.
And while it’s not red white and blue, the display in Roscommon stands to see the number of veteran suicides decrease.