Polk honors veterans, 9/11 with resolutions

Published 8:00 am Thursday, September 6, 2018

Stats show 22 veterans commit suicide every day

COLUMBUS — The Polk County Board of Commissioners honored veterans this week by approving resolutions for Military Suicide Awareness Month, the 17th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, and a proclamation for those missing in action and prisoners of war.

The commissioners met Tuesday and heard from Joyce Preston, with the VFW Post 9116 auxiliary. Preston read the resolutions and proclamations, saying more female veterans are committing suicide than ever before — according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, a veteran commits suicide every 72 minutes, resulting in the loss of 7,300 veterans each year.

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The resolution named September as Military Suicide Awareness Month in Polk County. The Sept. 11, 2001, resolution recognized the almost 3,000 lives lost in the terrorist attacks that day.

Preston said the county normally recognizes its first responders, emergency and fire personnel on Sept. 11, but, because of the World Equestrian Games, the recognition will be held at a later date.

Commissioners also proclaimed September as Polk County POW/MIA month and Sept. 21 as Polk County POW/MIA recognition day. The county will fly the stark black and white banner symbolizing America’s POWs and MIAs over the courthouse, Veterans Park, post offices and other locations that day.

Commissioner Tommy Melton said, being a veteran, it is impossible for him to wrap his head around the fact there are 22 veterans who kill themselves every day.

“I can’t understand how we can lose men and women that serve our country,” Melton said. “This [resolution] is a piece of paper. We’ve got to reach out to our veterans and save them.”

Preston said anyone with an iPhone can ask it for the suicide hotline and it will take the person straight there.

Melton said the number of veteran suicides has not changed over the last 10 years, and got emotional saying how horrible that is.

“Tonight, we go to bed, and 20 to 22 veterans have killed themselves,” Melton said. “It’s got to stop. I highly support this resolution.”