Mayor Don L. Weiss Jr. has proclaimed December to be Veterans Suicide Awareness Month in the city of Dickson.
The proclamation signed by the mayor is part of a nationwide effort to raise awareness about the veterans’ suicide rate and PTSD by veteran Eli Smith.
According to the proclamation, the most recent study by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reveals that approximately 20 veterans die by suicide every day. The study shows that the highest risk for suicides is among younger veterans who served on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.
“As I come into towns, I like to meet local veteran organizations, veterans, local officials, and the mayor,” Smith said of his journey in an email. “I have put December as the month of recognition because that is the month that most veteran suicides occur.”
U.S. Army veteran Smith is on a three-year, 15,000-mile journey to all four corners of the contiguous United States to raise awareness about veteran suicide rates. He started out walking on Nov. 22, 2016, and after 4,600 miles switched to a bicycle.
Smith walked from Pensacola, Fla., to Washington state with a stop in San Diego for the southwest and northwest corners in the first leg of the journey.
The second leg on bicycle started in Las Vegas March 17, 2018, and crossed the Midwest and Southeast before ending in Columbus in Smith’s home state of Ohio.
During that section, Smith entered Tennessee from Arkansas Sept. 2 and had an overnight stop in Dickson on Sept. 10, during which he visited with fellow veterans at the Sensing Brothers Post 4641 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He then proceeded to Nashville and on to Kentucky on Sept. 17.
“Please tell everyone there that I enjoyed my time there and everyone made me feel very welcomed,” Smith said in an email.
The third leg of Smith’s journey resumes March 29 in Ohio and includes the northeast corner stop in Lubec, Maine, before concluding at the southeast corner in Key West, Fla., on Oct. 19, 2019.
Along the journey, Smith posts pictures and videos on the Facebook page Eli Smith 4CornersHike.
In proclaiming December as Veterans Suicide Awareness Month in Dickson, Weiss states “all citizens are encouraged to recognize how serious suicide is and the steps each of us can take to protect those around us from such tragedy.”
Smith is asking all the cities and towns along his journey to issue proclamations recognizing December as Veterans Suicide Awareness Month.