A North Carolina VA health care system and its bighearted partners held a “Pull for Prevention” truck pull Sept. 7. The event expanded community outreach efforts to reduce the number of Veterans who die by suicide.
The Fayetteville VA Coastal Health Care System suicide prevention team hosted the event. Members of the Fort Bragg Harley-Davidson and the Fort Bragg Suicide Prevention Program groups participated. Also participating were members of the Rick Herrema Foundation and the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Cape Fear Valley.
“Pull for Prevention” began with a four-person parachute jump by the All Veteran Parachute Team of Raeford, NC.
“Veterans are an integral part of this community. Effective outreach to Veterans requires outreach in diverse settings. For example, at a motorcycle dealership,” said Patricia Glenn, Suicide Prevention Program supervisor.
Glenn further added, “Holding the event in in collaboration with DOD and community partners creates access and awareness to the community, service members, Veterans and their families.”
More than 40 community public and private organizations came together during the event. They shared information about mental health, wellness and resources.
Combat Veteran offered encouragement
Retired Army Master Sgt. Chris Corbin was the guest speaker. During his speech, he provided insight and encouragement for those facing obstacles and mental health challenges. Corbin is a former Army Ranger and Green Beret who was wounded in Afghanistan.
The kids tent provided free snacks, games and passports to encourage interaction with the vendors. In addition, kids enjoyed seeing local race cars and service dogs. Even more highlights included Jeep displays, Veteran outreach organizations, free food and live music.
The human truck pull and car dead lift were the main attractions. As a result, more than 200 attendees had the opportunity to flex their muscles. Many challenged themselves physically and mentally to “Pull for Prevention” across the parking lot. The truck weighed 10,000 pounds and the car dead lift approximated a hefty 300-pound lift from the ground.
More than 40 community public and private organizations provided information at the event.
“Our hope for this event,” Glenn said, “is that attendees left with education, information and contacts. As a result, they have support in times of distress, crisis, recovery and postvention.”
“We recognize that to reach all Veterans we must build effective networks of support, communication and care across this community. This means being where our Veterans live and work every day.
“With resources, services and events like these, we can raise awareness about suicide. We can reduce the stigma and encourage prevention. Also, we can work together as a community to prevent these tragic deaths by suicide among Veterans and service members.”
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line. When you do, you will receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.
Jeff Melvin is a public affairs officer in the Fayetteville NC VA Coastal Health Care System Public Affairs Office.