Memorial for combat vets w/PTSD who died by suicide

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - Local Masonic members are spearheading an effort to erect a memorial in memory of combat veterans who committed suicide due to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). 

First Erie Masonic District Deputy, Daniel Di Natale, said the effort came about after 30-year-old combat veteran U.S. Army Captain Peter Schank took his own life in 2017 following several deployments to Afghanistan and a lengthy battle with depression.  Capt. Schank was a member of the Harmonie Masonic Lodge #699 in Amherst.

It is estimated that 20 veterans kill themselves every day across the U.S.

The new memorial, called the Battle Within Project, will be placed at the Buffalo & Erie Co. Naval and Military Park.  It is hoped to be installed by the end of 2018.  Funding for the project has come from the Masonic community and several businesses who are donating supplies and services.

Pictures of the proposed memorial were unveiled during a special service at the Buffalo & Erie Co. Naval and Military Park on Memorial Day 2018.

Veterans who are struggling with depression and PTSD are reminded that help is available.  A Veterans Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 is available 24-7 and will take calls from concerned family members and others.

Jill Murray, from the VA Western NY Healthcare System, said there are several programs that can help veterans and she urges family members to try and talk with veterans who seem to be having a hard time.  Avoiding a veteran because he seems to be having a "difficult mood" is the wrong thing to do, as often the veteran needs to talk with someone about his stress.

Signs of suicide risk that require immediate attention are:

-Thinking of hurting or killing yourself

-Looking for ways to kill ourself

-Talking about death, dying or suicide

-Self-destructive behavior such as drug abuse, weapons, etc.

-Hopeless feelings like there is no way out

-Feeling like there is no reason to live

-Rage or anger

-Engaging is risky activities without thinking

-Increasing drug and alcohol use

-Withdrawing from family and friends

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly has more in his report.

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