HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – This Memorial Day, the city of Holyoke’s Patriotic Events Committee challenged everyone to complete 22 push-ups to promote awareness around veteran suicide and mental health struggles.
This is all in recognition of the sobering statistic that 22 military veterans in the United States take their lives each day.
“The 22 push-up challenge is sort of to remember those 22 veterans that were roughly losing everyday to suicide and from there we hope to have people start having that conversation of how normal it is to get mental health counseling,” said Jesus Pereira, Director of the Holyoke Veteran Services.
Veterans aged 18 to 34 have the highest suicide rate. Reaching out to a veteran in your life before they hit a crisis point decreases their overall suicide risk.
“There are veterans out there who serve their country, a lot of them struggle with things, a lot of them come back from war and have difficulties adjusting to their family life, to friends, to getting back to work. And it’s so important for us to remember on a daily basis that there at people that need awareness. And what we can do as veterans or as citizens to help those ones who are struggling on a daily basis,” said Holyoke At Large Councilor Peter Tallman.
Pereira believes that starting a dialogue on mental health and discussing the services and resources that are out there will help our service men and women who sometimes have a hard time readjusting once they return.
“Once we come home we’re done with our mission and we sort of lose a little bit of ourselves I think anyone who’s a service member that’s a huge part of their identity and coming back to civilian life is a difficult transition it’s really important to start normalizing mental health conditions because it’s only way we’re going to get better,” said Pereira.