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American Legion members to gather for 'Vet Relief Day'

Posted at 6:26 AM, Mar 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-24 06:26:02-04

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — This Saturday will be known as ‘Veteran Relief Day’ all throughout Charlotte County.

To mark the occasion, the local American Legion Post 110 will be hosting an event raising awareness of veteran suicide. And these vets are on a mission.

"Just to bring awareness and prevention for veteran suicide," said Deanna Hall, Marine Veteran & Volunteer for Veteran Services at American Legion Post 110. "To bring the number to zero which is what we need to do.”

A mission to end veteran suicide. Together, with Project Vet Relief, they’ll be hosting an event Saturday bringing awareness to veteran suicide.

“A lot of civilians think that veteran suicide are a lot of veterans that are combat veterans when, in fact, they’re not wartime veterans," says Hall. "They’re veterans that have spent time in the military that sometimes can’t socialize back into the community when they get out of the military.”

Per the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, about 6,000 veterans die by suicide nationally every year. In Florida, it’s about 500 veterans per year.

"This is not just in Florida. This is worldwide.”

Bud Boyer— a navy vet— is the American Legion 13th District Commander. For him, this goes beyond bringing awareness.

“We’re raising money to stop that- to put an end to the 22 veterans (a day) who commit suicide," says Boyer. "We want to stop it, we want to help our veterans. They’re our brothers as we fought side by side, we trained side by side and we would work side by side with them to stop doing what they’re doing.”

And if you ask any of these vets, it’s that familial bond that is pulling them closer wanting to do more.

"We are family," says James Hemingway, Army Veteran & Post Commander of American Legion Post 110. "Despite branch, despite our genders- we all have our unique stories of our service. But we all know we took that same oath of forever flying to pledge our allegiance in defense of our country, domestic and or foreign. That’s our connection. And we have stories from generation to generation and decade to decade.”

A number of services will be on hand Saturday, including the vet center mobile for one-on-one counseling. Resources, as Hall says, that can serve as a good start to those seeking help.

“It’ll open that door and that’s all we need to do. If we can help one veteran that is success right there. Success.”

Saturday's event will be at the American Legion Post 110 in Port Charlotte from 10 am to 5 pm.

Remember you are not alone. If you are a veteran with mental health concerns or ideations of suicide, please visit the resources provided by the Disabled Veteran Empowerment Network.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 160 crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 1-800-273-8255. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.