You may have seen this on WGN-TV or in your local paper. Just before Memorial Day weekend- a bunch of veterans doing a walk to raise awareness for veteran suicide and PTSD. You probably thought, “Oh that’s nice,” and forgot about it until you saw this post. I get it- it’s an uncomfortable topic. It’s a bummer to think that if you served our country in the armed forces, you’re twice as likely to take your own life as someone who didn’t.
I think about it more often. I think about how military training is specifically designed to increase mental fortitude, and how if anything, service members should be less likely to commit suicide.
For the last three years I have taken part in Chicago Veteran’s Ruck March. It’s indescribably inspiring to walk with thousands of brothers and sisters in arms all carrying forty pound packs. I was in the National Guard, so for me its a great chance to meet up with people I served with. Two years ago a new study was released, Veteran Suicide was down from 22 people a day to 20- so now we only walk 20 miles! Great news. It’s still too far. For reference- we start right next to the Glenco Metra Station- we used to walk to Navy Pier- now we walk to Lincoln Park (directions are a visual aid- not the path we walk, which is longer).
I can’t thank Chicago Veteran’s enough for what they do to bring awareness to mental health, but we as a community need to do more. It brings me hope that residents of the 1st Ward recognize this and are demanding the return of the mental health clinic to our neighborhood. I’m also stoked that that members of the community are pushing to reopen the mental health clinic. I’m also stoked to live in a neighborhood home to the world’s first coffee shop where 100% of proceeds support proactive suicide prevention. The residents of this neighborhood that deserves an alderman who will make the city work as hard as they do towards these goals as they do.