In light of Suicide Awareness Month, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and five other cities have taken on a nation-wide initiative called "The Mayor's Challenge" designed to fight the battle of veteran suicide through community.
A recent study by The Department of Veterans affairs says Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of veteran suicide in the country.
For many of our country's strongest soldiers, the biggest battle is at home, fighting suicide. Marine veteran Stacy Hester knows the battle all too well. ?
"I think on a personal level I faced the battle for home?," Hester said. "We have to fight from my culture the marines, we win battles, we are not winning this one. The fact that we are losing more veterans to suicide than we are on the actually battlefield, which is unacceptable."
Hester says the high rate is largely due to loneliness. ?To combat it, Hester co-founded "Eagle Ops," which gives veterans opportunities for bonding and support. ?It's one of several organizations working with Deputy Mayor Amy Brown for the Mayor's Challenge. ?Brown says the point of the challenge is to get people talking. ?
?"While there were a lot of great things happening, we weren't all necessarily on the same page," Brown said. ?"Because of the Mayor's Challenge, we are working together better, we are able to do more training, more events, and initiatives that increase social connection.?"
Leaders with The Mayor's Challenge made its initial steps this week, all focused on one goal.? "The number one goal is to reduce the number of veteran service members and families affected by suicide in our community. More than that, I hope we make it an is aware and know its something they can have an impact on," Brown said. ?
?Brown says they hope to start moving on giving veterans more resources, bonding activities and overall support in the next coming months. She says the city understands that no fight can be won alone. ?
?"Wars are never won alone," Hester said. "If we cannot keep our community engaged to fight this fight, together we will continue to lose this fight."?
Brown said they plan to reach out to Oklahoma City soon to find out how then can work together to reduce suicide across the state.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal symptoms, call 1-800-273-8255.?