Appleton event focuses on suicide prevention among veterans

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Appleton, Wis. (WBAY)- Groups offering assistance to veterans who struggle with post traumatic stress disorder and suicide held the first ever "Connect to Courage" event Tuesday in downtown Appleton.

Inside the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center--- tables were set up, showcasing a number of organizations hoping to help veterans who might be struggling to adjust, after serving on active duty or even in combat.

"It's a huge problem. When you consider suicide amongst our community as a whole versus just our veterans I can't tell you what the statistic is, but it's quite a bit larger within that smaller community," said Mike Price of the Fox Valley Area Veterans Council.

Many of the veterans at the event watched a movie, addressing the issue of PTSD.

During that time, 22 chairs were left empty, representing the number of veterans who die by suicide each day in the US according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"There's two types of people. The dead ones and the alive ones. I'm an alive one. I went thru it, but I'm okay now," said Jerome Monson, a veteran from Appleton.

Monson understands the problem first hand, and considers himself a suicide survivor.

He added, "I believe and I think other people, the VA, can't handle it yet."

Jeremy Van Beek, a disabled combat veteran also attended.

He said, "When veterans come home, we don't know how to adapt back into society, and it's very tough to be accepted and when you come back you just don't have that same kind of brotherhood."

This is a first time event, but organizers hope to hold it each year to ensure the conversation remains in the spotlight.