Melbourne group fights to stop suicide among veterans
When military service members return from combat deployments, they are at an elevated risk of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of traumatic events they might have witnessed or experienced.
The month of June is PTSD Awareness Month, and June 27 is observed as PTSD Awareness Day.
A new nonprofit organization based in Melbourne, Warrior Quest USA is taking on the ever-rising veteran suicide rate among service members that results from PTSD symptoms. Every day, 22 veterans are lost to suicide. Warrior Quest USA would like to see that number at zero.
As reported by the Pentagon’s Defense Suicide Prevention Office, suicide has been deadlier than combat for the military. More than 45,000 veterans and active-duty service members have killed themselves from 2013 to 2018. That is more than 20 deaths a day — in other words, more suicides each year than the total American military deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Warrior Quest USA’s mission is to fund the travel expenses to retreat centers around the country that specialize in helping veterans overcome treatment resistant PTSD. The organization also provides tragedy, transition and education assistance.
Some of the symptoms can occur right after the event, but sometimes might not develop until years later — there is no set timeframe — and in some cases, symptoms might come and go.
It’s an individual who, despite adequate treatment with medications and cognitive behavioral therapy, is considered treatment-resistant.
The founders, Lance Supernaw and Dan Murray, both served as Air Force pararescuemen at Patrick Air Force Base. They have experienced treatment-resistant PTSD themselves. They have gotten help and want to ensure other veterans, who are suffering, get help when it might seem impossible.
From his hospital bed after suffering complications from a recent surgery, Supernaw went live on Facebook to send a message to veterans.
“If anyone that’s out there struggling and needs a hand, please reach out to me anytime, day or night. Reach out to me any time of the day or the night, I’ll always pick up. Take care and God bless. Peace.”