South Florida group hopes to lower number of veteran suicides

Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 6:35 AM EDT
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It’s National Suicide Prevention Week and military veteran suicides are happening at an alarming rate.

Navy veteran and WFLX anchor Mike Trim spoke to a new group that’s aiming to lower the number of veteran suicides locally. The organization’s name is The Fire Watch.

The name comes from the Civil War era when a soldier would keep watch over the fire so it wouldn’t go out while their fellow soldiers slept.

Now, The Fire Watch hopes to watch over vulnerable veterans in time of need.

Speaking about the current veteran suicide numbers in Palm Beach County, Fire Watch regional programs director Henry Angulo said, "Lately, it’s still a major crisis and that’s something that we want to address on our daily activities, kind of what we do, because it’s still affecting our community in a big way. A lot of veterans like to move here, especially those retired. And unfortunately, the 55-plus are the ones that are more vulnerable for suicide, whether it’s at the end their life. Their life has changed because maybe they’ve retired. So the numbers when it comes to Palm Beach County, unfortunately are 30 and over for the past three or four years when it comes to veteran suicides."

Mike Trim asked, "That transition from military to civilian life is a tough no matter where you served. Does that play a part in someone going down a path that’s not optimal?"

"For sure. Tt definitely does," Angulo replied. "That transitional period where your active duty and every day is pretty much guided and structured to being in the civilian world where you’re expected to figure it out on your own. We believe that’s the most vulnerable lifestyle change a person can go through. So The Fire Watch, we’re trying to train and educate as much as we can, as many organizations as we can. Creates more support for them and that way anyone that they go to may be able to steer them to that resource that may be helpful."

The Fire Watch has many resources and you can find those by clicking here.

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