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NAMI Southwest Missouri has been asked by its national organization to hold a candlelight vigil each month for 12 months. The first one will be held Monday July 22nd at 9:15 pm.
Dewayne Long, executive director of NAMI Southwest Missouri, says more services need to be available for veterans struggling with mental illness.
According to Long, educating the public about PTSD and other disorders would help.
"The awareness, number one, that our servicemen and women who have fought on the battlefield are now having a different type of war taking place in their minds, and they need adequate treatment, adequate support from our VA and from providers and from their families, and we need to do a better job of supporting their family as well," he said.
He says the public needs to know the warning signs of suicide and what to do if someone is threatening to take his or her own life. NAMI offers prevention programs free of charge to groups and businesses.
According to Long, veterans who are struggling need to know there’s hope even when things seem hopeless and that help is available through NAMI.
"We would be there to offer our support groups, which are free support groups. We would offer our education programs in terms of suicide prevention and support not only for the individual struggling with the loss of hope but also to the family member who is there being supportive and encouraging and yet they need encouragement also from others," he said.
Long says anyone is invited to attend “Project 22: A Memorial Vigil” Monday night July 22 at 9:15 outside the NAMI Hope Center, 1701 S. Campbell.
22 candles will be lit, representing the estimated average number of veterans who take their own lives each day.
For more information, 864-7119.