For some veterans, the battle never ends.
"This week alone, we had a veteran call Clear Path for Veterans and say he was having a very bad day, and he might not finish the day,” said Bill Smullen, Clear Path for Veterans CEO.
Luckily, employees saved his life, but about 20 veterans commit suicide each day, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
"The suicide problem is not diminishing,” said Smullen. “If something is moving in the wrong direction, we as a community here in Syracuse need to do something about that."
They are through Operation Deep Dive, a four-year in-depth study that focuses on the risk factors of veteran suicide. It’s conducted by America’s Warrior Partnership, University of Alabama and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. Central New York is one of the 14 communities participating nationwide.
"To really focus on the characterization, who is the veteran in Syracuse and in the counties around Syracuse that's most likely to take their lives so they can create community-focused prevention efforts,” said James Lorraine, America's Warrior Partnership president and ceo.
Clear Path for Veterans is part of the local Community Action Team gathering information.
"What we found is that there's a lot more methodology that needs to be developed with how to site things that may sound and act improperly,” said Smullen. “We need to be quick to respond.”
"The collection of data at the community level isn't as complete as you think it should be,” said Lorraine. “The validation of veteran status isn't quite there. As it moves up from the community level to the national level, it becomes more fragmented."
Researchers say veterans end their lives for many reasons including hopelessness and unemployment — problems that many say can be prevented.
"We want to find ways to put things in their life, where they have not only a bit of hope, but a degree of fulfillment that is good for them,” said Smullen.
In order to show veterans that survival is worth the fight. The study ends in 2021.
America’s Warrior Partnership is looking for more veterans to be in the study — specifically, those who lived in Onondaga, Madison, Oneida, Oswego and Cayuga counties. They’re interested in those who died in the last 2-6 months by suicide, high-speed single driver car accident, suicide by a police officer, overdose, asphyxiation or drowning.
Contact Krystal Garcia at (706) 386-2431. You have to be over 18-years-old.