Veterans lean on one another during 2nd annual Suicide Awareness Balloon Release

Posted at 3:16 PM, Sep 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-27 16:25:06-04

Those who serve are connected by the stars and stripes they vow to protect, but they're also connected by a darkness that plagues the military community.

During Suicide Prevention Month, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs works with organizations across the country to raise awareness on this issue by encouraging communities to support veterans and their families.

On Wednesday, Veterans One Stop held its 2nd annual Suicide Awareness Balloon Release. 

"It's very comforting to know that people share that same loss," said Air Force veteran Everlyn Humphrey. "I've lost a nephew to suicide in 2014. Just this month, it will be three years, so it's real important to my family."

Veterans and their loved ones gathered to witness 22 heroes release balloons at 10:22 a.m. for the 22 veterans and active duty military who die by suicide each day.

"It was very moving, it brought back some very tender memories," said Melva Kirby, who comes from a military family. "I lost my nephew back in January and he had been in the Air Force and he was having a lot of problems."

The evils of war can make it difficult to push out negative thoughts. Many years ago, Air Force veteran Dale Kirby considered taking his own life.

"We lived out in Oklahoma and had a lot of trees. I thought to myself, 'I wonder how long it would take them to find me if I went out there and hung myself in a tree,'" said Dale. "Then I got to thinking 'what good would that do?' That don't solve anybody's problems and that won't solve mine either."     

Dale credits his wife, Melva, for coming to his rescue.

"I've got somebody that takes care of me. I got somebody that keeps me happy, somebody that I can talk to," said Dale.

The loss of a loved one stays with you forever.

"Just to know that he's up there in heaven and maybe the balloon is reaching him," said Humphrey. 

While you can't bring them back, you can help someone else who needs saving.

"Come tell us what's wrong. Let us help you. You don't have to be alone," said Melva.

Veterans One Stop offers mental health counseling and a variety of other services for the brave men and women who have served. For more information on services or if you're interested in volunteering, click here.

Copyright 2017 KXXV. All rights reserved.