CEDAR CITY — During his recent visit to Cedar City, American Legion National Commander Vincent “Jim” Troiola addressed several issues that are affecting the nation’s military veterans.
During his March 16 speech to approximately 50 attendees gathered at the Iron County Senior Center, Troiola highlighted a peer-to-peer initiative called “Be the One,” aimed at stopping veteran suicides.
Depending on the source, it’s estimated that between 17 and 40 U.S. veterans are lost to suicide each day, Troiola noted.
“But whatever the number is, it doesn’t matter because those veterans are gone,” he said, adding, “We need to identify the ones that are still out there, remove the stigma of them stepping forward, and save one veteran’s life at a time. That’s what ‘Be the One’ is all about.”
Preventing veteran suicides is the organization’s No. 1 priority, Troiola said, adding that he recently testified before a joint Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committee about the issue.
“They’re on board 100% and they’re looking to get funding for this,” he said.
Troiola said the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is also focusing attention on the issue.
“The VA is on board,” he said. “They have their own program for suicide awareness. We don’t care what they call it, as long as they are doing it.”
Troiola also touched on several other topics, including physician and staff shortages at VA hospitals across the country, the effects of toxic water at Camp Lejeune and other military bases, legislation to help curtail predatory lawyers by capping their fees, military sexual assaults and how to better protect and support female veterans,
American Legion Cedar City Post 74 Commander John Fenn also spoke during the evening’s program, addressing the ways in which the patriotic community of Cedar City supports local veterans.
Dept. of Utah Commander Doug Case spoke about the ongoing success of the American Legion’s Boys State and Girls State programs.
In addition, Jeff Kelly of SUU Aviation noted that there are more than 500 veterans currently enrolled as students at Southern Utah University, more than 50 of whom are still on active duty. He also talked about SUU Aviation’s program offerings.
“This historic night was the first time an American Legion National Commander has visited Cedar City,” noted Harold Frazer, vice commander of Post 74.
If you or someone you know is in danger because of suicidal thoughts or actions, call 911 immediately. Suicide is an emergency that requires help by trained medical professionals and should always be treated seriously.
Nationwide suicide hotlines, 988, 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) and 1-800-273-TALK (8255), have counselors available 24/7. The Southwest Behavioral Health Center also offers help for Southern Utah residents; call 800-574-6763 or 435-634-5600.
Other resources include Suicide.org, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the American Association of Suicidology. All provide comprehensive information and help on the issue of suicide, from prevention to treatment to coping with loss.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2023, all rights reserved.