Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Six hundred sixty American flags will be placed at the Atlantic County Veterans Memorial this weekend (October 28-29) at the intersection of Zion and Bargaintown roads in Egg Harbor Township to bring greater awareness to the alarming number of suicides among our veterans.
There are currently an average of 22 veteran suicides a day in the US, or 660 per month.
In March 2016, Egg Harbor Township Navy veteran Charles Ingram died after setting himself on fire outside the Northfield Veterans Clinic.
Veterans make up less than 9 percent of our nation’s population, but they account for 18 percent of all suicides, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
While the civilian suicide rate rose approximately 23.3 percent between 2001 and 2014 researchers found the rate of suicide among veterans increased by more than 32 percent.
The idea for the display came from Lynn Brown of Absecon, a volunteer veterans advocate, with assistance from the Atlantic County Veterans Services Office. The flags will remain at this heavily traveled location for one month.
“The flags are a compelling visual representation of veteran suicides,” said County Executive Dennis Levinson. “The goal is to bring greater awareness to this issue and to encourage veterans who may be struggling to seek help. Our Veterans Services Office can provide veterans with resources and assistance.”
Veterans with thoughts of suicide are encouraged to call the National Suicide Crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Too often people try to tough it out rather than reaching out. There is no shame in needing assistance,” noted Levinson.
The Atlantic County Veterans Services Office is located at 201 S. Shore Road in Northfield and can be reached at (609) 677-5700.