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Locals Talk Ways To Prevent Veterans Suicides

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Kevin Meerschaert

More awareness, less stigmatism and learning the warning signs are some of the ways people can help work to reduce the number of suicides by veterans.

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veteran suicides occur every day nationwide.

The City of Jacksonville's Military Affairs, Veterans and Disabled Services department teamed with the University of North Florida to talk about the problem at the 2013 Veterans Suicide Awareness and Prevention Summit.

Many told their stories about losing friends and relatives to suicide.

Veteran Adam Bagby coordinates the AmeriCorps DREAM project with Communities in Schools.
The program brings local veterans together with local school reading programs. Bagby is also a veteran who was among one of the first to cross the boarder at the beginning of the Iraq War. He says three of his friends he deployed with have since committed suicide. Bagby says its important to get the word out to veterans and their families that help is available.

"There are all kinds of ways to get involved without needing to have to hurt yourself."

At the summit, the Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida announced it was developing a website linking every provider of veterans' services in the region.

The Veteran Mapping Services Initiative will allow service providers access to information about each other and can be used to coordinate efforts and detect where deficiencies exist. 

Veterans Services Project Coordinator Coleman Brooks says they hope to launch the web site in a couple of weeks.



Kevin Meerschaert has left WJCT for new pursuits. He was the producer of First Coast Connect until October of 2018.