Seminar to focus on suicide among veterans

By DAVE SUTOR | The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa. (Tribune News Service) | Published: August 7, 2016

About 20 U.S. veterans, on average, die from suicide each day.

Given several factors, including issues with life insurance, religious beliefs and an unfortunate stigma sometimes attached to taking one’s own life, that number actually may be underreported.

Either way, “It’s absolutely a horror show,” according to Veteran Community Initiatives Director Tom Caulfield.

This year VCI plans to make veteran suicides the primary topic of its annual Returning Veteran Issues Symposium.

Caulfield described it as a concern that cuts across all demographics of veterans: young, old, male, female, rich, poor.

“It doesn’t avoid anyone,” Caulfield said. “It’s just such a terrible plague that we have right now, and we need to make people aware of what’s happening.”

Two speakers – Pennsylvania Army National Guard Suicide Prevention Program manager Mark Todero and Russell Crupe Sr., the father of a victim – are scheduled to discuss the issue during the symposium on Aug. 24 at Hiram G. Andrews Center in Upper Yoder Township.

Other subjects to be discussed include post-traumatic stress disorder, stress management, rehabilitation services, veterans court and family support.

Pennsylvania Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Scott Perry plans to give a keynote address about today’s military.

U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, from the 12th Congressional District, is scheduled to make opening remarks.

“The focus needs to be on the programs that are available and hitting the target,” Rothfus said.

Veterans and nonveterans are welcome to attend.

Seating is limited to 125 people.

The seminar is free if registration is received on or before Aug. 15. It is $50 after that date.

Visit vciinc.org for more information.

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