FORT HOOD — More than 250 soldiers gathered inside Palmer Theater on Thursday to discuss a sensitive subject among active-duty military and veterans alike: suicide.
Among those part of the talk was Medal of Honor recipient Leroy Petry and members of Operation Warrior Call and Troops First Foundation.
Petry received the U.S. military’s highest decoration for his actions in 2008 in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.
According to the Center for Deployment Psychology, suicide is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. military.
“There could be someone next door to you that you know served and might be the next statistic,” said Rick Kell, Troops First Foundation executive director. “It’s important that we call our battle buddies to check on them and more importantly, if help is needed to make the call.”
Operation Warrior Call is a nonprofit that encourages service members to reconnect with their battle buddies. The initiative also provide resources — should a fellow soldier or veteran contemplate suicide — such as a visit from volunteers of the organization.
Petry said groups like Warrior Call can save lives.
“We are losing too many troops to suicide,” Petry said. “Many who served, especially those who are younger, who hesitate to make the call if in need of help.”
According to a 2015 Department of Defense suicide report, “the standardized suicide rate was 20.2 per 100,000 for the active component. For the selected reserves component, the rates were 24.7 per 100,000 for the Reserves and 27.1 per 100,000 for the National Guard.”
John Hosea, also a member of Operation Warrior Call, said the numbers are too high to ignore.
“Pick up the phone, reach out on social media, we will help,” he said.