Military News

This event in D’Iberville wants to help vets who may be thinking about suicide

Veterans who would like to participate in the Spartan Alliance Weekend can apply at their website.
Veterans who would like to participate in the Spartan Alliance Weekend can apply at their website. Spartan Alliance

If you are a Mississippi veteran thinking about suicide, The Spartan Alliance wants to help.

“We’re bringing awareness” to the high veteran suicide rate, said Larry Bothner, an Air Force Special Ops veteran, who is coordinating the Spartan Alliance Weekend, Oct. 12-15 at the Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort in D’Iberville.

The event is designed “to get (veterans) interested in doing other activities than sitting at home and letting this PTSD defeat them,” Bothner said.

Jeanne ‘Granny’ Graeser organizes boat cruises, fishing trips and parties for veterans and sponsors deployed troops through Soldiers’ Angels. Graeser didn’t have any experience working with veterans when she started, but she is known known as some

Activities include a 20-mile bike ride, mini-golf, craft activities and a gala dinner.

The Alliance will present at least three mobility chairs to veterans at the gala.

The event is seeking businesses run by veterans and organizations that serve veterans to participate in an Expo For Disabled Veterans on Oct. 14.

Participants will meet other veterans, and before they leave, they will have a “Battle Buddy,” somebody they can talk to “before they make that final decision to do something,” Bothner said.

The event will also pamper the veterans’ caregivers.

“They’re forgotten about,” he said.

Fifty-five veterans have applied for the 50 spaces available, but Bothner said he would like to get more applications from Mississippi veterans. Friday is the last day to apply for the weekend. The 50 participants will be selected from the applicants.

Interested veterans can apply at Spartanweekend.org.

Michael Eugene “Mike” Webb was living in his truck with stage four lung cancer when a group of people from the Salvation Army and others came together to help him qualify for his Veterans Affairs benefits and get into the Biloxi VA hospice to spen

Statistics about the number of military suicides vary.

A widely-quoted study done in 2012 uses the figure of 22 suicides a day, but a more thorough study released by the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2016 says the number is 20.

Independence Corps, whose mission is to provide greater mobility to wounded veterans, is the creator of the Spartan Alliance.

“Regardless of what’s the precise statistic to quote, suicides and attempted suicides among our veteran population must be addressed,” the group says on it’s web site.

A Biloxi police officer who responded to an emergency medical call wound up adopting a World War II veteran with no family.

John Fitzhugh: 228-896-2193, @JFitzhughPhoto

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