“Every day, nearly 22 veterans take their own lives. Our team is saving lives and providing a better way of life for our uniformed heroes.”
I Am My Brother’s Keeper! Are You?
Michael D. Boll, Director of New Jersey Veterans Network and United States Marine Corps Veteran
A few years ago, I was approached by a friend and co-worker of mine who expressed how extremely depressed he was and that he wanted to take his own life. Initially, I was completely shocked because this guy always seemed to be upbeat and happy all the time. Immediately, I asked him to come with me to a private office so we could talk about his awful situation. This was the first time in my life that I had a friend talk to me about suicide, and I knew I had to really do my best to help him get through this horrible ordeal. We spoke for a few hours and I listened closely to everything he said. I was able to convince him to immediately get some help and we went to the hospital. I stayed with him at the hospital and met with him when he was released. I did everything to show my friend that I had his back and because of this he is alive today. This awful situation inspired me to do whatever I possibly can to help others in need and shortly after we created our mobile outreach program.
In today’s day and age, most of you have known a veteran or first responder that has taken their own life. Every day we lose nearly twenty-two veterans and approximately three hundred first responders every year to suicide. Even with all the awareness and new anti-suicide programs available, this number has not changed and, in some cases, has increased. The Veteran Hospitals’ PTSD and mental health programs are packed with patients and unfortunately, they continue to grow. More of our first responders are also seeking help and utilizing some of the state programs being offered. So many people want to help and put an end to this crisis but sadly there isn’t a foolproof program available that will stop this ever-growing crisis from destroying our uniformed heroes and their family’s lives.
For the last two years our team has been working tirelessly with other charities to come up with a better solution to help prevent this epidemic from continuing. Personally, we believe our “Mobile Outreach Team” is really making a difference and everyday it helps our uniformed heroes live a better way of life.
The first thing we learned is to lose your “EGO” and seek out other groups and organizations that are looking to save lives. Then we find the right volunteers who are committed and dedicated with being a mentor to a person in crisis. Volunteers are extremely valuable because they want to be there, and they usually care more than the people who get paid for their services.
To date, we have been able to change and save countless lives because of the incredible commitment from the volunteers and other supporting groups.
Our approach is to aggressively seek out and contact a veteran or first responder in crisis. Our goal is to immediately work on building trust by being completely honest with the person in crisis. Using our network is wonderful, but it’s more important to show the person in need that we are there for them and won’t give up. Usually, we go out and meet with those in crisis and spend whatever time is needed to help them get in a better frame of mind. Bottom line “Human Contact” and “Friendship” is the key to saving a life.
Our Mobile Outreach Team is unique because it consists of mentors from all over the state that are willing to do whatever it takes to save and change a life.
About New Jersey Veterans Network
We are a group of veterans and volunteers dedicated to helping our veterans and their families live better lives. Our team is raising awareness of our veterans needs by organizing public speaking engagements, meeting with business and political leaders across the state and sponsoring fundraising events. Our mission is to identify veterans and connect them with resources and programs designed to meet their unique set of needs. To ensure that EVERY single one of our veterans, who have sacrificed so much for this great country, receives the resources that they require and deserve. If you are interested in joining our team, would like us to speak at your event, or contributing to our mission, call 973-332-1556 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more visit njvn.org.