FORT HOOD, Texas (KWTX) The men and women of our military protect the country every day. But, when they return from combat, veterans are often met with a feeling of emptiness.
A feeling that could lead to depression and suicide.
With Operation Warrior Call, veterans are being encouraged to check on each other – at least once a week -- to curb the suicide statistic of 22 deaths a day.
Leroy Petry, a Medal of Honor recipient, knows firsthand the mental scars from combat. He lost his hand to a grenade. But his injury has become his motivation to help stop veteran suicides.
“If we don’t take the time to take care of our self mentally and physically, then we can’t be the best soldier, not for ourselves, but to the people to our left and right,” he said.
During an event Thursday on Fort Hood, soldiers learned more about Operation Warrior Call – which is an initiative by Feherty’s Troops First Foundation.
They say picking up the phone is often the biggest battle.
“We’re all afraid to show a chink in the armor. We don’t want to show that we have faults. We want to be our best, strive to be the best,” Petry said.
The pledge urges veterans to check on each other and be there for each other.
“Not just the guys that they know real well, but guys they’ve served with, guys they’ve lost contact with. Basically take the pledge to make one call, at least one call a week,” Rick Kell said.
One call a week is potentially lifesaving. Suicide and breaking the stigma is a conversation, veterans say is worth having.
“Nobody wants to talk about suicide every day. There are so many other things that are better to talk about but we can’t stop dodging this bullet. We have to ask all the soldiers we meet, all the sailors, all the marines, all the airmen, everybody,” Kell said.
Part of the mission is also helping vets realize there are people wanting to help and erasing any fears they may have.
“They’re scared. They don’t want anybody to look less about them. They think that they’re week minded, that people are not going to respect them anymore, that no one is going to care about them. The biggest thing we try to do is let them know ‘hey they’re not alone,’” John Hosea said.
Information on how to get help is posted on this page.