Thought I would write about something a little different and closer to home this month. I just finished reading an article in the Air Force Times by Leo Shane III titled “Veteran Suicides Still Increasing.” It made for a rough read. Not many around here will be able to read the same article, so I thought I would pass on some of the information that might help someone out there that is suffering.

From the article: “More than 6,100 veterans died by suicide in 2017, about 17 individuals per day. That’s up about 2% from 2016 and about 6% over the previous 12 years.” Continuing: “Officials said they changed this year’s (2019) report to focus solely on veterans to avoid confusion about the population they monitor and directly assist. If the other military and never-activated reservist numbers were included, it would have pushed the suicide rate for the total veteran-connected group to about 21 individuals per day.”

That works out to 7,665 vets a year. That’s a heart-wrenching number. The total population of our county is approximately 7,000, with about a 1,000 of use having worn a uniform at one time or another. Imagine the entire population of our county gone in one year. This is what’s happening every year in our country.

More from his article: “Women with prior military service are more than twice as likely to die by suicide as their civilian peers. Male veterans are 1.3 times as likely to die by suicide as men that never served.”

Being a 20-plus-year Air Force veteran, I have my own demons and I’m dealing with my own mild PTSD and depression. I know how hard just getting out of bed and moving can be on a bad day. BUT, with the help of a good, local doctor and a lot of people who I can talk to I’m dealing. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good. One of the hardest lessons that I had to learn was that I was not alone in this fight and its okay to ask for help. That’s the message that I’m trying to pass on today.

There are many ways that someone who is suffering can reach out and get some help. Locally, the Wallowa Valley Center for Wellness 24/7 number is 541-398-1175 or the Veterans Crisis Line is 1-800-273-8255 (press 1 for a VA staffer). Vets, troops or family members can also text 838255 or visit VeteransCrisisLine.net for assistance. Hell, if you're local and hurting you can call 541-426-4307 or stop by the post. We’re open from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. every day. Talk to the bartender and they will put you through to one of us, or you can call me personally at 541-263-2077. I’m not a counselor and I don’t claim to have a great deal of training in this area, but I’m an ear to bend and am more than willing to sit and listen to a brother or sister in arms.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Please before you do anything permanent, reach out to someone. No judgment.

Respectfully, Kim Hutchison

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