TROY for Troops Center, IFC seek to raise suicide prevention awareness

Students from the IFC and the TROY for Troops Center place flags on the quad as a part of Operation We Remember.

Students from the IFC and the TROY for Troops Center place flags on the quad as a part of Operation We Remember.

Troy University’s TROY for Troops Center and the TROY Interfraternity Council (IFC) are joining the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs and the Alabama Department of Mental Health in a newly established Veterans suicide prevention awareness campaign.

The campaign, Operation We Remember, is intended to serve as a visual reminder that suicide knows no boundaries. TROY is among the seven colleges and universities in Alabama that have joined this effort.

TROY students will display 152 American flags on the quad throughout the week of Sept. 19-24 to remember the 152 Veterans in Alabama who lost their lives to suicide in 2020.

“During the month of September, we are dedicated to calling attention to suicide prevention,” said Scot Brumbeloe, TROY’s Director of Military and Veterans Affairs. “The 152 American flags represent the 152 Alabama Veterans that took their life last year. We hope these flags will raise awareness of this serious issue throughout our society and specifically amongst our military populations so that one may be able to protect themselves and loved ones from this tragic health issue.”

Dendy Moseley, Associate Dean of Student Life, said the IFC saw participation in Operation We Remember as an opportunity to raise awareness.

“Our desire to participate in this initiative was two-fold,” Moseley said. “One, we want to honor these veterans and never allow their service to our country to be forgotten. Two, we want to continue to bring awareness to the importance of mental health for our soldiers.”

Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Kent Davis said he hopes that the visual display the project presents will serve as a reminder of the invisible wounds many veterans encounter.

“Suicide prevention is never an easy subject or an enjoyable conversation, but we hope this visual display will show the reality of how many Veterans have those invisible wounds and help create impactful, long-term change,” Davis said.

Nearly 18 percent of individuals who die by suicide in Alabama are veterans, and Alabama Department of Mental Health Kimberly Boswell believes bringing awareness to this issue is critical.

“Supporting our Veterans with mental health resources that are accessible and compassionate is crucial,” Boswell said. “Through resources such as 988 and the Crisis Centers, we hope to help Alabamians find help, begin the path to recovery and save lives.”

Brumbeloe said awareness of the warning signs can play a key role in helping to prevent suicides.

“Concerning signs include withdrawing from friends and family, anxiety, hopelessness, and being quickly prone to anger. As in any case, if you see something, say something,” Brumbeloe said. “A conversation could be all it takes to help alleviate harmful thoughts and behavior. As a resource, the VA has established the Veterans Crisis Line, a free, confidential line for Veterans and those close to them: 1-800-273-8255.”