Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day. That’s 22 too many.
That’s roughly one every 56 minutes.
This is a tough subject for me — or any veteran really — to talk about. But there’s help available. One of the groups who are reaching out to help is 22UntilNone.
22UntilNone was started by organization president, Derek Cirilo (“D-Wreck”). According to his biography on their web page, he has served in both OIF and OEF.
“What drove me to start 22UntilNone was the fact that I’ve lost more men at home than I ever did in combat,” Cirilo said in his biography.
Cirilo was a marine infantryman for eight years and now he resides in the Houston, Texas area.
Chrystal Verrengia (“Fiore”), vice president of 22UntilNone, came to 22UntilNone as a former DoD civilian worker and 911 dispatcher.
“It’s definitely taken a lot of dedication and hard work to get it off the ground and in the public eye,” Verrengia said. “We still are making headway on that, a little every day.”
At first, a large part of the following consisted on combat veterans, however, over time the audience has grown.
“Slowly, we have a lot of other vets coming to us for help, not necessarily infantry combat vets,” Verrengia said. “We are here for all vets of all conflicts and all MOS. Our public events are drawing more and more people, which is good for the vet community in terms of feeling of brother and sisterhood.”
22UntilNone is a non-profit 501c3. The 501c3 is a federal marker that allows donations to that charity to be tax deductible. There are no paid employees at 22UntillNone, which allows more funds to go to the services they provide.
The services 22UntillNone offer range from “emergency financial assistance, VA benefits help, assist with transitioning, advocacy, wellness services, camaraderie, and a 24/7 crisis hotline,” according to the website. 22UntilNone networks with other service organizations to help each veteran as best they can.
“We do feel we are bringing together more vets and making a difference. We get emails and messages all the time thanking us for giving people the strength to keep going. That makes our day, hearing that a post from us caused someone to rethink their actions and decide to live,” Verrengia said.
There are many different factors that may lead a person to suicide, from complications with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to depression. It is very difficult for anyone, but more so for the soldier to admit it’s getting out of hand.
In the military, we are taught to “Be strong,” “Suck it up and drive on” and “Embrace the suck.” Admitting that we cannot do it alone anymore and admitting we’re not strong enough to continue is one of the hardest things a veteran has to face.
The good news is this: You are not alone. There is help available and people available — who know exactly what it is you are facing— no matter what the issue is.
To find out how you can help 22UntilNone and their mission to bring the numbers of veteran suicides down to zero, please visit their website at 22untillnone.org. “This is family, and family takes care of family,” Verrengia said.
George Schmidt is a Staff Writer for The Spectator.