The Fayette County Veteran Service Commission’s (VSC) “Silent Watch Veteran Suicide Awareness” event on Saturday had numerous volunteers take part.
During the event, a casket with flags draped over it was placed in front of the courthouse. Two people stand in silence while facing the casket at all times — every 20 minutes the two individuals were relieved by other volunteers.
Summers Funeral Home lent the coffin and the flag for Saturday’s event.
The awareness activity first began elsewhere in efforts to bring awareness to the high number of veterans that commit suicide every day. Last year was the first time the event was held, with many attendees stopping to honor veterans.
According to VSC Financial Benefits Counselor Tasha Jackson, “there are a lot of veterans in our community that suffer from PTSD. The Silent Watch brings awareness to an issue that gets swept under the rug. Doing this event is making our community talk about the issue. Bringing awareness and knowing the signs of a suicidal person can save a life.”
She further explained that every day, roughly 22 veterans lose their battle with post-traumatic stress disorder. That is one veteran every 65 minutes.
There were 27 spots on each side of the coffin during the awareness event, making 54 spots total. McClain Cadet Corps took up 22 spots. USVMC took up six spots. Honor Guard took up four spots. The total number of people standing was 71 as there were extra individuals who volunteered.
“We would like to thank the WCH volleyball team, McClain Cadet Corps, Fayette County Honor Guard and US Veterans MC for coming out and standing, along with everyone else who came to stand. The ones who volunteer their time to Stand Watch is how we make this event happen. Thank you Dress Right Dress for coming out and setting up a table. This is a non – profit organization that we work well with. They help incarcerated veterans and veterans on probation. Their goal is to help widen the gap between service and incarceration.
“A special thank you to Summers Funeral Home, Fayette County Honor Guard, and Deputy Chris Paisley. Summers Funeral Home provides us with the coffin and the flag. They come out early Saturday morning and drop off the coffin and the flag. We call them and let them know the day of our event and without hesitation they are willing to help with whatever. Roberts Funeral Home is the same way. They are a call away to help us with whatever to make this event happen.
“The Honor Guard helps close out all of our events. These men and women are always busy, but they make sure they support and join any event that we do. I would like to thank Chris Paisley. Chris is the mysterious man that plays the bagpipes at our events. He does not get enough recognition for his talent. He is always willing to perform at our events and he does an amazing job. This event could not have happened without the help of our community,” explained Jackson via email.
With the number of volunteers, the event was a success.
“It caught the eye of the community which is what we wanted. It got people to stop and come ask us what was going on. People coming to ask and giving us the opportunity to explain what we were doing is exactly how we get the word out and get awareness about veteran suicide. It was a pretty cold day, so of course it wasn’t very encouraging to get people out and about like we had hoped but attendance was still pretty good We are hoping to get more veteran and mental health organizations included next year. We are already thinking of ways to do better and get more people involved,” wrote Jackson.
Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.