The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
@TheChrony

Student veterans organize event to raise awareness of veteran suicide

Twenty-two pairs of military combat boots were carefully lined up outside the Marriott Library, each holding a small American flag fluttering in a light breeze. A plain white sign stood behind them, with the national statistic “22 veterans commit suicide every day” in stark black letters.

“We’re trying to raise awareness,” said Jared Richardson, a senior in pre-nursing and president of Student Veterans of Utah, who was staging the demonstration.

Richardson, who completed a combat tour in Afghanistan, said the group organizes an event on the 22nd of each month to bring the issue of veteran suicide to light and encourage support as a method of prevention. This month’s event was aimed at physically representing the issue in a way that would drive the point home to passersby.

Roger Perkins, director of the Veteran Support Center at the U, said the point of the program is to “call a buddy who’s a veteran every month and just see how they’re doing, let them know somebody’s there for them.” He hopes others will do the same.

Perkins said about 3.3 percent of students at the U are veterans. The Veteran Support Center offers an array of programs to support such students. These services include help with getting GI Bill funding, counseling, tutoring and advocacy. The center can also simply be a place for student veterans to sit down and talk with people in a similar situation.

“We also have free coffee,” said Perkins with a laugh. “We encourage people to come over and get to know us.”

Perkins said community awareness of veteran issues is the biggest problem his center faces. He also wants to expel the negative perceptions surrounding veterans and help others realize they are everyday people who have just had some unique experiences.

The center has been extremely helpful to Richardson in transitioning from military service to being a student at the U. He wants to provide a network of support to other veterans who may struggle with this sort of move.

“We want people to know there is no shame in asking for help when you need it,” he said.

[email protected]

@NikiVenugopal

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