JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Coming out of Memorial Day, many Americans spend time reflecting on and honoring the men and women who died in service. But it’s also important to remember the service members who have returned home with the invisible scars of war.
This year, there’s a push to support veterans in crisis by connecting them with vital resources.
Although the number of veterans who have taken their own lives is roughly the same as it was a decade ago, suicides among veterans have seen an uptick since 2016. These figures are even more alarming in Florida, where the rate of veteran suicides is 36.8%, according to a 2018 study.
Efforts to help these brave men and women extend all the way from our nation’s capital in Washington, D.C. to Northeast Florida, where a Jacksonville-based organization is stepping up to help. The group has enlisted a network of more than 10,000 volunteers.
With the organization estimating that 20 veterans taking their lives every day, The Fire Watch has made it a mission to put a stop to that problem. The organization assists veterans in crisis by putting them in touch with available resources. But the group can’t achieve this goal on its own.
Become a Watch Stander
That’s why The Fire Watch is recruiting volunteers to become “Watch Standers.” These volunteers are trained on how to identify risk signs among veterans in crisis. From there, they can help connect these veterans with the support they need to overcome the challenges they face.
To become a “Watch Stander,” volunteers watch training videos, acquaint themselves with resources for veterans in need and sign a pledge. The qualification process takes less than 45 minutes to finish. Those interested in signing up are encouraged to watch our phone bank on Tuesday.
Helpful resources available
If you or someone you know is a veteran in crisis, there is a toll-free hotline available. Just dial 1-800-273-8255 and then press 1. You can also send a text message to 838255 for assistance.
Call 1-800-366-9598 or 904-346-4630 on Tuesday to learn how to become a Watch Stander.