WASHINGTON — Memorial Day is a day to honor those who lost their lives while serving their country. But, what about those who've died since serving – by suicide.
Editor's Note: This story contains mention of death by suicide. If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) – or simply 988. You can also text a crisis counselor by messaging the Crisis Text Line at 741741. It is free, available 24/7, and confidential.
According to the 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, 6,146 Veterans died by suicide. That averages to approximately 16 Veterans dying by suicide every day.
It's not the way you died, it's the way you lived," said John Yori, the president of USASOA.
United Soldiers and Sailors of America was founded in 2013. The nonprofit military and veteran service organization hosts a prayer service each year, honoring those lost to war, service and suicide.
'We wanted to make sure we extend a hand of compassion to know that they are not forgotten that their grief is just as real just as important," said Yori.
They also provide food and toiletries to veterans in need, among other things.
They're not the only organization locally trying to help those who might be struggling.
"It's a tough day," said Matt Johnson.
He's one of the coordinators for the Irreverent Warriors DC Chapter. The nonprofit organization, he says, brings veterans together using humor and camaraderie to improve mental health and prevent veteran suicide.
"We honor the sacrifice of the men and women who gave their lives. But, we live for the veterans who are still alive. Our mission now, is not just to honor the sacrifice of those who are gone, but to pay it forward to those who are still alive," said Johnson.
One of their most popular events is their Silkie Hike. The veterans go for a casual hike, wearing silkies, the military's old traditional PT uniform.
"When you come out it's an instant family," said Johnson.
While only veterans can participate in the hike itself, they love to see support and invite you to volunteer or come out along the route to show some love.
Their next Silkie Hike in D.C. is on June 24. To register click here.
While both organizations focus on different aspects of helping veterans, they share a common mission, to be there for veterans who are hurting.
"It is not a sign of weakness to reach out in fact it's a sign of strength," said Yori.
"You matter you are important the world needs you," said Johnson.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) – or simply 988. You can also text a crisis counselor by messaging the Crisis Text Line at 741741. It is free, available 24/7, and confidential.