Suicide Prevention and Awareness week brings 22 boot display to Eastern for the month of January

By Rosie Perry, Staff Writer

EWU Veterans Resource Center (VRC) sponsored suicide awareness week to raise awareness of the high number of veterans lost to suicide every day.

The United States loses 22 veterans to suicide every day across all age groups. This averages out to losing a veteran approximately every 80 minutes. That number can be quite shocking when considering the total number of veterans in the U.S. is less than two percent, according to VRC Director Dave Millet.

Millet and Vetcorps Navigator Angela Sanchez said they face many challenges in their jobs but said raising awareness is their biggest obstacle to overcome. Sanchez, in conjunction with several organizations on campus, put together a display in the JFK Library to help with this problem.

This display is known as the 22 boot display and it represents the 22 lives lost every day. The project is statewide and will remain at EWU until the end of January.

Millet said the VRC’s main goal is to help veterans integrate into life as students and provide them with a place integrate into life as students and provide them with a place they can go to be with people who know what they are going through and have been through some of the same things.

According to Millet, veteran students involved in the VRC graduate at a higher rate than the university average.

Millet and Sanchez both said their jobs are very rewarding. “Hands down, serving veterans is the most rewarding part of my job,” Sanchez said. Millet agreed with Sanchez and added how much he enjoys seeing his students succeed. “The best thing is when we help a student, and not that we don’t like them, but we never see them again because they have done really well,” he said.

Sanchez said the most common issue facing the veterans she serves is integrating into civilian life. This is what the VRC specializes in helping their students do. Millet said they do their best to help their students in every way they can. This ranges from helping them choose a major to helping navigate the financial aspect of school.

EWU is home to a number of veteran students of all ages who struggle with integrating every day.

EWU junior and veteran David Kerney was in the U.S. Marines from 2009 to 2013 and completed one deployment to Afghanistan during his service. Kerney is now in the reserves and is planning for a career in law enforcement.

He said he feels EWU has been very welcoming and supportive during his time here. “There really isn’t a bad thing to say about it,” Kerney said. He said EWU is lucky to have Sanchez because some colleges do not have a person to help with outside college issues such as childcare and family support. “Having that outreach is very important,” Kerney said.

Kerney said being in the military makes people more competitive than most. He explained how coming to EWU and not making everything a competition was difficult for him, as was learning how to deal with people in a civilian way rather than a militaristic way.

The VRC is located in Showalter Hall 122 and is open to all students struggling with veteran-related issues. Students are encouraged to seek guidance in the VRC and raise awareness of the issues facing veterans. Millet and Sanchez said they believe this is the first step to reducing the number of veteran suicides.