NAPLES, Fla., -- They found a veteran unresponsive nearly 7.5 hours later after she went missing. Sarah Cox says with the Camo Alert in place, it could mean the difference between life and death.
“They just disappear because they figure it’s easier that way," said Cox, an Airforce Veteran.
Cox said her fellow veteran friend suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and has tried to commit suicide three times in the last few weeks. As a veteran who also deals with PTSD, she says it's common for veterans to turn up "missing" as way to isolate themselves.
“If your loved one went missing and had plans to hurt themselves wouldn’t you want to know where they were?"
Cox pointed to the Camo Alert, an alert system set up similarly to amber or silver alerts that sends out notifications via phone or on highway billboards, letting the public know to be on the lookout for a missing veteran.
The Camo Alert was found by the American Military Veterans Foundation that made a trip to Tahallashee a couple weeks ago, trying to get Florida lawmakers to pass the bill. However, they were told there was not enough funding in the State budget to do so.
"Anytime we have to wait a day, it’s detrimental. Cause’ we’re losing 23 a day," said David Souders, founder of the American Military Veterans Foundation.
Souders says 23 veterans commit suicide every day on average. But Cox says that number only includes 21 states, stating it's actually a bigger group that's adding to the epidemic.
For now, Cox says they depend on Facebook to send out Camo Alerts.
“We had people just messaging like crazy, like I can be in the area in 30 minutes or I’m here."
However, she says social media can only reach a small percentage of people and the new alert system is "vital" in order to save lives. The Foundation says in order to get the bill funded they need the public to take notice.
"If it wasn’t for our veterans, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do every day, that’s the way I look at it," said Keith Campbell, Americans Military Veterans Foundation,
Visit the American Military Veterans Foundation website to see how you can donate or volunteer at www.ammilvets.org.