Suicide among veterans a growing problem, auxiliary members told


SUICIDE AMONG VETERANS was discussed at a recent presentation to the Landt-Thiel American Legion Post 470 Auxiliary in Saukville. The presenter was Laura Acompanado (right), coordinator of the Suicide Prevention Program at Zablocki Veterans Administration Medical Center in Milwaukee. She is shown with Mary Ellen Race of the Legion Auxiliary. Photo by Sam Arendt

More than 6,000 veterans commit suicide nationwide every year, and members and guests of the Landt-Thiel Saukville American Legion Post 470 Auxiliary were told there is one thing each of them can do to stem the tragedy.

Be there.

That was the message delivered on Wednesday, Oct. 16, by Laura  Acompanado, coordinator of the Suicide Prevention Program at Zablocki Veterans Administration Medical Center in Milwaukee.

Only about a third of the nation’s 20 million veterans come to the VA for health care, Acompanado told auxiliary members. 

“That’s why we need everyone in the community to get involved” in preventing suicide, she said.

Acompanado’s appearance at the Saukville Legion was part of Suicide Prevention Month. 

“With more than 45,000 Americans dying by suicide each year, the VA is using a community-driven approach to prevent suicide and finding innovative ways to deliver support and care to all U.S. veterans,” Acompanado said.

“The VA is encouraging people to be there for veterans in need. One act of thoughtfulness can make a big difference and may even safe a life.”

Acompanado emphasized that special training is not needed. People only need to recognize warning signs and show compassion and care to veterans in need.

About 30 people were in attendance. 

Things anyone can do, Acompanado said, include:

• Reach out to veterans by sending a text, cooking them dinner or simply asking, “How are you?”

• Become educated on the warning sides of suicide.

• Learn how to respond to social media posts that indicate emotional distress, feelings of crisis or thoughts of suicide.

Acompanado suggested contacting the VA’s Coaching Into Care program if a person is worried about a veteran.    

Veterans in crisis, or those who know a veteran in crisis, can call the VA’s Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 or text 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.

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