22 Veterans lost to suicide each day.
We hear it all the time. Platoon 22 was founded on trying to bring education, awareness, and prevention to this statistic.
Platoon 22 started after the second soldier from Frederick County, Army Specialist Adam Richardson, died by suicide. No longer could we stand by idly as our nation’s warfighters fought the war at home alone. The first issue we saw was that very few even knew there was a suicide epidemic within our ranks. What we needed was a way to quickly engage the populace while at the same time conveying the enormity of this epidemic.
With 22 Veterans lost to suicide each day, our initial goal was to make people aware of what was going on. However, we quickly started getting calls to help veterans in crisis. We discovered that most, if not all of them, were not in the VA system. More importantly, this was not just in our area but reflected the reality across the nation.
That’s when we realized we needed to shift our focus to providing better transitional support services. That led us to look into the possibility of creating our own Veterans service center. It just so happened that at the same time, our President and founder, Danny Farrar was asked to attend a community round table as the voice for Veterans for Goodwill of Monocacy Valley.
Goodwill had conducted a community needs assessment and realized there was a strong desire and need to assist veterans in our region. As a result, they were looking to pursue the idea of opening a Veterans center. That was all we needed to know that it was time to take that leap of faith and fight for our warfighters.
Several meetings later, the commitment was made; we shook hands, signed on the dotted line, and became partners to bring the Platoon Veterans Services Center at Goodwill to life. Located right here in Frederick, MD, it will be the first of its kind. Platoon 22 hopes to expand nationally and honor our social contract to take care of Veterans when they come home.
Platoon 22 Boot Memorial
The Platoon 22 Boot Memorial provides a visual impact and emotional reality. The boots were donated to Platoon 22. Some of them belonged to Veterans that are still with us, and others were donated by families of those who lost their loved one to suicide. The boots represent all branches of the various military generations of warfighters. The memorial is set up as if they are in formation, standing at attention. Those that see it understand the void that is left behind by every Veteran lost to suicide.
The empty boots serve as a reminder that 22 isn’t an arbitrary number. It represents an individual: a father, a mother, a brother or sister, son or daughter. While the statistic of 22 is alarming, it’s the individual lost that’s the tragedy.
A military unit. They live together. They fight together.It is the epitome of teamwork, a family. When they leave the service, frequently, it feels like their family is lost. Without their platoon, far too many leave their boots behind to join the ranks of the 22 per day. That’s why, sadly, we are losing an entire platoon, EVERY DAY.
Kelley Flanders is our Boot Commander and travels with the boots and sets up. “To me the 22 Boot Memorial is a living reminder, not just a group of boots. When I set them up, to me they are all of the men and women that we lose every day. They are proud and stand with honor.”