Buddy Check 22 aims at reducing suicide among veterans

Twenty-two veterans die by suicide every day, according to the latest numbers from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Thursday was a day to reach out to a military veteran to hopefully reduce that number.

Just a simple phone call could possibly save a veteran’s life, and that’s the goal of Buddy Check 22.

“A day to call a veteran that you know and check in on them to hopefully change the fact that 22 veterans a day commit suicide,” organizers posted on Facebook.

Retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Dubois had never heard of Buddy Check 22 until he got a call from a fellow veteran Thursday morning.

“I was very touched that he took time to do that for me,” Dubois said.

Even though he didn’t know about the initiative, Dubois said a few times each month he sits down and calls four or five different soldiers that he served along side of during his 30 years in the Army.

“Just to tell them, ‘Thanks for your service. How are you doing today? Is there anything I can do for you?'” Dubois said. “You can just hear in people’s voice’s the thankfulness that’s in their voice when I call.”

Dubois said a phone call from a fellow soldier can be just what a veteran needs, because not everyone understands what they went through. That’s why suicide prevention staff at the VA in Tomah encourage communication among veterans.

“Often times, veterans are not as comfortable talking with a mental health provider as they are talking with one of their peers, one of the people that they’ve been to battle with, one of the people they’ve done training with,” Cindy Groskreutz, of the Tomah VA, said. “Because they’re going to be able to relate to the experiences they’ve had and understand the emotions that they’re dealing with.”

Dubois knows just how valuable a phone call could be and that’s why he continues to pick up the phone. He encourages everyone to do that same because you may just save someone’s life.

If you are in crisis, or know someone who is, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 or text 838255.