This MNSU resource aims to raise awareness for veteran suicide
This April marked the second anniversary of the 22 push-ups challenge at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
This campaign, which was was initially launched by the Veteran’s Club in 2015, aims to raise awareness in the MSU community about high rates of veteran suicide.
According to Joshua Byrnes, a key figure behind the campaign, “Veterans are at an increased risk of suicide than the general population.” He notes that the Department of Veteran Affairs calculated that “approximately 22 Veterans commit the act of suicide every day.”
According to the department, Veterans accounted for approximately 22 percent of all suicides in a review conducted of 21 States between 2009-2012. This information, which was released in 2012, aimed to raise awareness about this issue so that greater steps could be taken to “drive suicide prevention program development and improve outcomes for Veterans at risk of suicide” (see Suicide Date Report, 2012, Department of Veterans Affairs).
Byrnes believes that this is “an issue for all generations of Veterans.” The goal of this campaign is to raise awareness at the local level about this disturbing trend. He hopes that the MSU community will support the Veteran’s Club in their mission to raise awareness. Byrnes has been pleased to see high levels of student involvement with the campaign, stating that last year students completed over 15,000 push-ups. This year, the Veterans’ Club hopes to see a new record of 20,000 push-ups set.
While the student support has been overwhelming, this support has not been reflected by every faction of the MSU community. Byrnes feels that the school, in particular, does not have an adequate response to deal with the growing suicide epidemic, emphasizing that four veterans affiliated with MSU have taken their lives over the last four years. Byrnes also notes that this pressing issue is one that “sadly is not [addressed] by anyone affiliated with the school.”
While this campaign provides a significant step towards raising awareness about the issues faced by Veterans, Byrnes hopes to see measures implemented which will go toward combatting these problems. He notes that the Veteran’s Club is “hoping to achieve a direct representative who is paid for by the school,” and that this representative “can directly coordinate programming impacting Veterans who attend MNSU.”
Brynes draws attention to the fact that “there are over 600 Veteran-affiliated students who currently attend MNSU” and hopes that the school can implement measures to better support these students.
For anyone who is interested, the campaign will take place every day of April at 11:30 a.m. at the Centennial Student Union Fountain. Byrnes notes that this event is “always pretty punctual and students should make sure to arrive on time.” He hopes to see as many students out there as possible to help the Veteran’s Club reach their goal, noting that the campaign “really needs more people to come out and contribute” to allow them to hit the 20,000 mark.
So come along and support the Veteran’s Club in raising awareness for an important cause, while also getting fit in the process!
Photo: (Courtesy of the Veteran’s Resource Center)