It was a sobering account of a problem that has become too tragically common for uniformed heroes who have served their country and then slipped into a life of depressed desperation.
Former combat Marine of the 1970s, Kenny Joseph, recently told a gathering at the Porter County Expo Center about his first-hand experience of being on the brink of our nation's veteran suicide epidemic. It was a reminder that we all must do everything in our power to repay the loyalty of our veterans by ensuring they have understanding ears to hear them and services to help them.
Nearly four years ago, Joseph told the Valparaiso gathering, he pointed a gun at his own head and pulled the trigger in an attempt to kill himself. Instead of ending his life, it became the start of a new chapter aimed at reducing the average of 22 veteran suicides our country experiences each day, Joseph said.
Joseph founded the Patriot Project Mission Twenty Two, based in the western suburb of Wheaton, Illinois, six months ago. The group employs 70 people who help veterans find jobs, temporary housing and linking some vets with service animals.
Joseph's efforts are a welcome answer to a scourge on our men and women in uniform.
They're also a reminder we all can do our part to help family, friends and neighbors returning from combat or other military service.
The adjustment back to civilian life from these altering experiences is frequently difficult for veterans. Too often, their lives have spiraled out of control while no person or entity intervened.
Veterans need to know we care, that we're here to listen and help them find help, whether through counseling or organizations like the one founded by Joseph.
Men and women who risked their lives to serve the rest of us deserve the preservation of caring service from their fellow Americans when they return home.