North Carolinians: Make a Warrior Call to help military and vets

For active-duty military at Fort Bragg or veterans across the Tar Heel State, Veterans Day 2021 was especially hard. The combination of the troubled pullout in Afghanistan earlier this year, coupled with increasingly pessimistic views of the economy and the waning yet still present pandemic, meant that this often-isolated population felt especially vulnerable.

“The swift fall of Afghanistan’s government to the Taliban has left North Carolina veterans and other North Carolinians connected to the war dismayed, sad and angry,” reads a report in the Fayetteville Observer as it relates to Afghanistan.

Our very real fear is that the high rate of suicide among those serving who have served will increase in light of these factors. The numbers tell the story.

Veteran suicide has steadily increased since 2014 with 6,435 veterans taking their own lives in 2018, though there was a modest dip in 2019. The rate for suicides among veterans is roughly 27.5 per 100,000 individuals compared to 18.3 per 100,000 for all U.S. adults.

Frank Larkin
Frank Larkin

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For those in the military ranks still today, new data from the Defense Department shows that 2020 had the highest rate of suicide since the government began tracking the data in 2008. Some estimates show suicide is the single largest cause of death for those serving our nation.

“Even the very conservative estimate that I came up with, it's horrifying,” said researchers of a landmark 2021 report on this challenge.

Therefore, leaders are rallying together in a grassroots manner to ask Americans – but especially veterans and active-duty military — to step up and make a “Warrior Call” to check on those who have worn or are wearing the uniform. We call the effort “National Warrior Call Day” and will commemorate the inaugural version on Sunday, Nov. 21 — strategically placed before the holidays when a sense of isolation and despair can often increase.

Our ask is straightforward: Reach out and connect with someone serving or who has served this nation and let them know you are here for them and care about their well-being. Make a call, take a call and have an honest conversation. If you feel that person needs help, steer them to the resources available at Vets4Warriors, which includes a phone line (1-855-838-8255) open around the clock.

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Research shows that active-duty service members and vets in need of support often don’t seek help on their own. So, it is not exaggerating to say that this call could save a life.

Indeed, connection can facilitate honest dialogue, create a desire to stay in contact and help define a viable path forward. And all it takes is a call — via phone or video — or an in-person check-in, to forge a path toward better connectivity.

Thankfully, the Warrior Call effort is building momentum. Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives, including Fayetteville-area Rep. Richard Hudson, are leading a resolution in support of National Warrior Call Day.

Just last month, every living former Secretary of Veterans Affairs endorsed the Warrior Call effort in a letter to Congress arguing that the creation of National Warrior Call Day “will lend needed credibility to this project.”

Leroy Petry
Leroy Petry

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Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) recently remarked: “It’s a heartbreaking tragedy, particularly for families, when a veteran or servicemember takes his or her life.”

We agree and believe that North Carolinians can answer the bell to help through Warrior Call.

Larkin and Petry are co-chairs of the Warrior Call initiative. Larkin is a former Navy SEAL, 40th US Senate Sergeant at Arms and father of a Navy SEAL son who committed suicide. Petry is a 2011 recipient of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor.

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This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: If a veteran needs help point them to Vets4Warriors at 1-855-838-8255