At least 22 veterans die by suicide each day. These deaths deserve our community attention. These deaths deserve our societal resolve to address the suffering some veterans experience before more tragic and unnecessary final losses reverberate through our communities. Veterans account for 20% of all suicides.
Recently, a group of veterans and family members of vets who died from suicide formed the 8030project.com to raise awareness of these yearly 8,030 unnecessary and tragic deaths. They ask that the greater community respond. Specifically, they invite us to create a Memorial of 22 objects, photograph it, and digitally send it to the gallery exhibition: www.8030project.com.
The Coming Home Collaborative held a public event June 22 at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church to raise awareness and discover potential recovery pathways. People brought 22 everyday objects with them, or used objects provided, to make memorials, which were then photographed and can be found online at 8030project.com/gallery/.
There was also an exhibition by 12 veterans in the Veterans in the Arts program, a program that helps vets bring what is inside to the outside through the creative process and to experience healing as those creations are witnessed by the greater community. www.veteransinthearts.org/about-us.
A third exhibit raised awareness of the high rate of early deaths—from a variety of causes—that veterans experience, many within five years of their deployments.
Amy Blumenshine is a diaconal minister in the Lutheran Church (ELCA). She co-authored “Welcome Them Home—Help Them Heal: Pastoral care and ministry with service members returning from war” and founded the Coming Home Collaborative, which engages the faith communities in the work of healing after war.