Veteran’s suicide is a serious concern in the military community, with the services conducting classes and funding campaigns to inform soldiers and civilians about the warning signs of a soldier or veteran in trouble.
Army Reserve veteran Corey Mitchell, 27, recently reached out to the Hinesville Police Department to invite them to participate in the 22 push-up challenge. The challenge seeks to raise awareness of veteran’s suicide, using a statistic that on average 22 veterans a day commit suicide, by having participants do 22 pushups a day for 22 days. Participants are also
sked to challenge a new person or organization each day.
Mitchell served in Afghanistan in 2013 with the 850th Transportation Company out of Lyon, Mississippi, and his wife Tiffany was active duty Army between 2002 and 2006, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan with 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment.
Corey Mitchell lost a soldier to suicide shortly after their unit returned home from Afghanistan.
"And it really hit me because he’s like a good friend and we talked a lot and I had no idea that anything was troubling him like that," he said. "And nor did I take any precautions as far as checking on him when he uploaded his profile picture to that of a single picture of him holding a hand gun that was way out of his character."
"So it kinda hit home for me when I started noticing the challenge. So I took that challenge personally to just say, really just say I’m sorry. I missed that," he said.
Mitchell said he challenged the Hinesville Police department because he believed that many of them were veterans.
"Because these places a lot of veterans are. And I do 22 pushups, my wife did 22 squats, it’s whatever you can do. The main objective is to get the message out, that hey there’s 22 veterans committing suicide a day," he said. "Let people know this is unacceptable and we have to do better as far as taking care of our veterans."
On Tuesday evening, several members of the Hinesville police department and their family members came out to support the cause. The participants lined up in the front of the police station on Martin Luther King Drive and counted off each pushup until they had all reached the 22 pushup goal.
Mitchell and his wife thanked those who took the time to come out and gave the officers cookies to eat afterwards.
Mitchell said it made him feel good to see the officers come out and that he’s thinking about inviting the Hinesville Fire Department next to participate in the challenge.
The ‘22 veterans a day’ statistic came from a 2012 Veterans Affairs Suicide Data Report, but the 2016 Suicide Data Report from the VA had findings from 2014 that "an average of 20 Veterans died by suicide each day."
It also found that in 2014, "after adjusting for difference in age and gender, risk for suicide was 21 percent higher among veterans when compared with U.S. civilian adults."