TEXAS — After proudly serving three years in the Army and nine in the Air Force Reserve, Sandra Desjardins remembers leaving the military feeling anxious and alone.
“I had found myself in a really low place,” Desjardins explained. “All of a sudden, you lose that sense of community because you don’t have those group[s] of people who are guiding you.”
Today Desjardins said she feels complete. She recently joined Team RWB Fort Hood. Their goal is to enrich the lives of veterans and their families through physical and social activities.
According to the World Health Organization, “communities play an essential role in suicide prevention.” A 2021 report from Brown University found “suicide rates among active military personnel and veterans of the post-9/11 wars are reaching new peaks.”
“We’re offering them [veterans] all of the resources that they need to be the healthiest, best version of themselves,” Desjardins said.
Air Force veteran Kametra Marzette is the outreach director for The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Endeavors in Killeen, Texas. She says high military suicide rates are triggered by a number of things, such as difficulty returning to civilian life.
“When you’re in the military, you kind of have a strict schedule. You know when you’re working out, when you’re going to work, when you’re getting off. So if you’re not doing that anymore, your health could fall by the wayside,” Marzette said.
Team RWB member Don Rhoades says they are tackling this issue.
“They [veterans] fit right back into society because we’re with them,” Rhoades shared. “We understand them.”
Desjardins is now the community engagement director for Team RWB Fort Hood.
“As they [veterans] go through the transition, they realize that their best days are ahead of them and not just behind them. It wasn’t just the glory days of their military time,” Desjardins said.