Chaplain urges residents to contemplate the troops as holiday draws near

By Chaplain Kenneth Koon

Armed Forces Mission has chosen the month of May as the inaugural month of Stand With Them ~ The Campaign to Restore Hope. At the conclusion of the month, with Memorial Day, we remember those who have fallen on the field of battle. Henry Ward Beecher wrote, “They hover as a cloud of witnesses above this Nation.” This coming Memorial Day while we are all firing up the grill and enjoying a three day weekend take time to honor the memory of those who have sacrificed ALL for the freedoms we enjoy today.

I can’t help but ponder what this nation’s cloud of witnesses might say if they could speak to us. Perhaps they would remind us of their battle buddies who have returned alive but are dying inside. They returned from battle, but the battle came with them. They didn’t die in the battle, yet many of them die from the battle that continues to rage within their own heart and mind.

At 22 suicides every day, veterans account for a disproportional 20 percent of those who end their lives. As an Army Chaplain I am reminded of the creed of the chaplain to, “Nurture the living, care for the wounded and honor the dead.” I am also reminded of the creed that our fallen and wounded swore to when the donned the uniform “TO SERVE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” With that same passion for service to our nation, Armed Forces Mission has as its primary goal a stronger nation with communities that are safe from the risk of suicide. This is our bottom-line commitment. Therefore, our mission is to train ourselves and others to strengthen the resiliency of America’s Armed Forces, our veterans and our nation.

We provide suicide intervention not only for our troops and veterans, but for all individuals at risk throughout the whole community, because suicide is not just a military issue. While veteran and active duty suicide has received much press, the fact is that across the US every day 41,000 people consider suicide. That is 1 in 20 people every year who have suicidal thoughts. 1,400 teens act upon those thoughts and actually attempt suicide. Thankfully, the majority of attempts are unsuccessful, yet the pain and emotional trauma remains.

Armed Forces Mission also seeks to train people from all walks of life in both the military and civilian communities in the skills that can save lives. Participants in our 2 day suicide intervention workshop represent a broad fabric of the community to include educators, law enforcement, ministers, social workers, military personnel, little league coaches, and others who desire to gain the skills that can save lives. The only pre-requisite is a caring heart. Those trained become “Community Gatekeepers” in their companies, churches, neighborhoods, and ballfields and wherever skills are needed to intervene for those at risk.

STAND WITH THEM ~ The Campaign to Restore Hope represents the ongoing commitment by Armed Forces Mission to do our part and to encourage others to join us in the effort to build stronger communities that are save from the risk of suicide. We now call upon individuals, corporations, churches and other organizations throughout the Fayette community to join us in a strategic partnership to restore hope. To join us in the mission visit our website at StandWithThem.com. To learn more or register for the 2 day suicide intervention workshop coming to Fayette contact AFM Executive Director, Chaplain Kenneth Koon through the website at StandwithThem.com. Seating is limited. AFM is a 501c3 non-profit corporation.