For the first time ever in Fayette County, a Silent Watch Veteran Suicide Awareness event will be held.
The event is being hosted by the Fayette County Veteran Service Commission (VSC), although, according to VSC Director and County Veteran Service Officer Amy Jackson, the awareness activity first began elsewhere in efforts to bring awareness to the high number of veterans that commit suicide every day. The VFW Riders Post 3762 will be assisting with the event.
The watch will take place on Saturday, Sept. 26 from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on the courthouse lawn, 110 E. Court St. in Washington Court House.
During the time of the event there is planned to be a casket with flags draped over it (as long as a donated casket can be obtained). There will be two people standing in silence while facing the casket at all times — every 20 minutes the two individuals will be relieved by other volunteers.
Currently, there are volunteers signed up to fill the 9 a.m. to noon time slots. Several more volunteers are needed for the 20 minute slots to help bring awareness and show respect for veterans that have committed suicide, as well as those struggling with suicidal thoughts.
“The average has been 22 veterans a day,” said Jackson. “Since COVID-19 has happened, I was told that it could be up as high as 25 veterans a day who are committing suicide. The silent watch is just there to bring awareness and let people know that there are a lot of veterans out there that do commit suicide, and there are veterans that have been walking that fine line. It kind of lets them know that there’s other veterans out there who care, and there’s also other avenues that they could try.”
Volunteers can be any community member, not just veterans, and is open to all ages. To sign up for one of the slots, call the VSC at 740-335-1610.
According to Jackson, she is attempting to work with the Chillicothe VA to get a representative to attend the event to be available to speak with veterans.
There will also be a VCS office table set up so staff can provide information for veterans who are present.
“We’re just trying to raise awareness and let veterans know that there are other avenues and other resources out there,” said Jackson. “Sometimes veterans just don’t know where to go. Even if they are suffering with some kind of mental illness, if it’s something they want to file a claim on, our office can help lead them in the right direction, because that’s something that we do. We file claims here. At the event, we can tell them the process.”
Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @JennMWoods.