Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Veteran Suicide Awareness & Prevention

Picture of man silhouette leaning over with elbows on knee.

According to the Arizona Department of Veterans' Services, there are approximately 67 veterans who try to commit suicide every day across the nation.

While the statistics are alarming, there’s help and hope.

Members of Rio Salado’s Counseling team recently attended a conference hosted by Phoenix College, which focused on programs that can help struggling veterans and their families, volunteers and others affected by veteran suicide. Here’s a list of key programs designed for Valley veterans and communities:

Picture of 6 silhouette soldiers standing up/kneeling while holding guns facing away from the sunset on a mountain.

The Ripple Effect was born after the founder’s son, Joel, committed suicide. Joel was an Army veteran who completed three tours in the Middle East. After each tour he was sent home, put on medication, and then sent back out.

He couldn’t function and felt that he had no purpose. Joel was extremely depressed and felt utterly lost upon his return from his final tour. He was found dead in his apartment at a young age. The Ripple Effect brings together families, organizations, volunteers, and resources to aid with prevention of other veterans from slipping through the cracks.

Graphic of "Sande Roberts" in blue and green ink

Sande Roberts gives useful insight on how to help veterans and others who may be prone to suicide. Sande explains that when veterans return to civilian life, they no longer feel wanted, needed, or that they serve a purpose. Having a reason to wake up, shower, and live is essential. Whether they are looking forward to having lunch with a friend or watching a movie, becoming a mentor, taking care of an animal, or helping with home or business repairs - the list goes on and on! The key take away is that a little goes a long way. Small gestures, even something as simple as a call or text, can make all the difference.

Group picture of people holding a "HOPE" sign.

Shock Wave is a veteran mentor program created by Andrew Jones, USMC. Jones is a Marine Corps Combat Veteran and a public speaker focused on helping veterans not only survive, but thrive. He speaks the language of veterans and understands them on a level that not everyone can. Jones says he is “very passionate about assisting Veterans in learning to apply the principles of their military training to be successful in their transition to a new mission within their society.”

Jones has helped several veterans and is interested in helping you, too. To get in touch with him call (702) 306-4610, tweet @AndrewJones0351, or email

News contributed by Autumn Cardenez and Elena Matus McDonald on behalf of Rio Salado Counseling.