Giving Veterans the Power of Hope
This Memorial Day, I invite you to join me will join me in doing what we can to turn the pain of America’s veterans into power through an organization I co-founded called Help22. Far too many of those who served our nation now fight another battle—against depression or PTSD or substance dependence that causes suicidal thinking. Tragically, according to a recent Veteran’s Department study, more than 20 veterans and active duty personnel commit suicide each day. A prior VA study put that number closer to 22.
The toll of military service could not be starker than the way it manifests in men and women who come to believe—wrongly and tragically—that relief from their unbearable psychological suffering will never come.
As a counselor and life coach who has worked in state, community mental health and VA settings (both inpatient and outpatient), I know very well that I live in a nation in which I enjoy the freedoms America’s veterans fought and fight to preserve. In fact, when I worked at the Boston VA Medical Center, there wasn’t one day that I didn’t read the inscription near the entrance that read, “The price of freedom is visible here.”
That’s why I decided to found HELP22, an organization that aims to offer one-hour counseling and advice sessions on the 22nd of every month for any veteran who wants help and hope, free of charge, anywhere in the world—whether in person, by phone or via video conference. I have already started offering my free sessions.
The first person I reached out to for assistance with Help22 was Commander Kirk Lippold USN (Ret). Kirk was Commander of the USS Cole when the ship was bombed by al Qaeda terrorists on October 12, 2000 in the Gulf of Aden. He pulled bodies from the ocean that day. He knows first-hand what it is to live through the horrors of war.
Kirk’s father was a psychologist who founded the Salt Lake Suicide Prevention Center. When he was about five-years-old he heard his dad answering calls at all times of the day and night from people who needed help. And he never forgot it.
I could not be more honored that Commander Lippold agreed to join me in launching HELP22. My other cofounders are Christian Josi and William Fidler. We intend to challenge psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, pastoral counselors and life coaches around America to offer their own days of free counseling and advice on the 22nd of each month. These professionals have remarkable, effective healing tools at their disposal. Every single hour could save a life.
You can join us by donating to HELP22 to achieve our goal. If you are a counselor, life coach, psychiatrist or therapist, you can also join us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and learning how to offer free services to veterans on the 22nd of every month.
-Dr. Keith Ablow