Walkers in Odessa raise awareness for veterans suicides

Walkers in Odessa raise awareness for veterans suicides

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month and the community spread that awareness in Odessa for veterans suicides.

There are about 22 veterans who take their lives everyday. Although Texas has the highest suicide rate, roughly 26% are veterans.

"More veterans have killed themselves than died in Iraq or Afghanistan," said Midland VFW Post Commander and Marine Corps veteran David Collins.

Families and veterans walked 7.5 miles at the Chris Kyle Memorial in Odessa and it was all for fallen veterans.

"Can you imagine a soldier whose been to combat, served his country and came back and take his own life?" asked George Roberson with the Veterans Affairs Suicide Prevention.

This first annual walk was sponsored by the Veterans Affairs, the Vet Center, and the Permian Basin Military Partners Coalition sponsored the walk, with help from the Midland County Sheriffs Office.

Jaime Sanchez, stepfather of Army veteran Alan Cedillo, who took his own life in 2012, said the family is still trying to hold together after Cedillo's death.

"It tore the family apart," said Sanchez. "He was going to go back to training and that's the last time we saw him. We're barely mending together now."

Although the changeover from military to civilian life is not that easy, some can still fight through.

"For me, it was a hard transition," said Collins. "Getting out of the Marine Corps and coming home, I can only imagine what guys didn't have the support system that I had."

Roberson said the Veterans Affairs helps veterans who may be facing a crisis. They will receive assistance whether it be medical, mental, or homeless.

"We're here to help," Roberson said. "The VA will hear you, we're trying to do everything to let you know we're available for you."

All it takes is one phone call away.

"There is somebody that cares," said Sanchez. "We do care."

"Your life is so much more than to end it for nothing," said Collins.

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