Advocates use Memorial Day to shine light on veteran suicides

Published: May. 29, 2017 at 10:22 PM MST|Updated: May. 30, 2017 at 8:12 AM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Twenty-two. That's how many veterans commit suicide in the United States every day.

While there were many traditional events throughout Tucson to remember fallen vets on Memorial Day, one gathering took a different tact.

A group of veterans and homeless advocates gathered to discuss those who feel the pain of war and combat when they return from the battlefield.

They too are the victims of war.

Veteran Ricardo Pareyda said one cause of veteran suicide is if they hold in too much of what they saw and experienced in war.

"You can't let people know that you're feeling weak, that you're feeling afraid," he said. "And you feel vulnerable."

Advocate Lewis Arthur said it's an all-too-common fate for our veterans.

"No one knows why they commit suicide," advocate Lewis Arthur said. "All we say is that the demons got the best of them. They lost the fight when they came home."

Memorial Day is a day not just to remember the fallen but also to discuss the issues so many vets face on a day-to-day basis, such as addiction, homelessness and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Arthur carries 22 ribbons on his belt every day, ribbons with the names of families who are suffering because their loved one killed themselves.

"You can imagine the hurt the families go through when they pray every day that their child makes it through war but then comes home and something happens," he said.

"It was somewhere along the line that they lost the battle and we failed them," he said. "These families right here are always No. 1 in my heart and today's a hard day for them."

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