“Buddy Check 22” Helping VeteransAugust 24, 2016 |
by Associated Press
SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. — Some Scottsbluff-area residents have joined a social media movement and are meeting monthly to decrease the suicide rate of veterans.
Nationally, Buddy Check 22 maintains a Facebook site that, through its exchanges of information, tries to change the outlook on life some veterans have and provide an outlet where they can talk to those who’ve had similar combat or military experiences.
The number 22 is significant because a 2012 Department of Veterans Affairs study said an estimated 22 veterans committed suicide every day in 2010. Other studies say the figure is far lower.
The Scottsbluff group started meetings in January and has met since on the 22nd of each month.
“Twenty-two is 22 too many, is what we say,” Nathaniel Johnson, a member of the Buddy Check 22 group who is music and band director at Western Nebraska Community College, told the Scottsbluff Star-Herald.
Mike Millikin, Veterans Upward Bound adviser at the college, said veterans from any military branch or era of conflict are welcome. More than a dozen show up at some of the pizza restaurant gatherings.
The meetings can help veterans know there are others in the area who care about them and offer support.
“Knowing that you don’t have to carry the burdens by yourself is one of the best things,” Millikin said. At the last meeting, for example, there was a discussion about how veterans can deal with rage.
Some of the meetings are just fun.
“Getting together to talk about stuff, similar situations, like boot camp or you’ve been deployed, or military life in general,” Millikin said.
When service members were deployed overseas, they had buddies with them, Johnson said.
“We want them to know they were not fighting over there alone and they aren’t fighting here alone,” he said.