An estimated twenty-two American veterans commit suicide, every day. The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, a veteran outreach organization that focuses on severely-wounded veterans, is asking for help to bring awareness to this epidemic. On Sunday, November 5th, 2017, the Civil Air Patrol 95th Composite Squadron, Texarkana, participated in the #22Standing campaign.
Cadets and Senior members stood in formation for two minutes and twenty-two seconds saluting the flag. The video is posted on the Squadron’s Facebook page in hopes that others may participate in the campaign as well. The memorial was led by 95th’s Squadron Commander Loren Ainsworth and 2nd Lt. Jim Batchleor.
The project was brought to the squadron’s attention by Jim Batchelor, a CAP member and Army veteran, who was helped by the Coalition to Saluting America’s Heroes. Specialist Batchelor who fought in Iraqi Freedom and was injured during combat operations in Sadr City, on April 4th, 2004. Spec. Batchelor sustained major head and brain injuries when he was shot in the head while manning a turret on a Humvee.
After returning home and discharging from the Army in November of 2004, Batchelor went through a series of events that would eventually lead to being homeless and a broken marriage. He struggled with his situation and issues with obtaining medications he required from the Veteran’s Administration. Through the Army Wounded Warrior or AW2, he was identified as a veteran in need of assistance. The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes was contacted to assist him in his recovery and transition in the civilian world.
The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes is a non-profit that provides direct assistance to severely wounded and disabled veterans and their families, according to their website the Coalition has provided “over $30 million dollars in aid and services since 2004.” The Coalition’s primary focus is on veterans who have served in campaigns in support of the War on Terror.
Spec. Batchelor’s circumstances are all too familiar to many severely wounded veterans, impoverished, unable to care for themselves and dealing with crippling injuries seen and unseen. His circumstances are also all too commonly seen in those estimated 22 veterans a day, who commit suicide.
It is through the Coalition’s aid and services that helped make Jim Batchleor’s story a successful one and not a statistic. He stated, “I was depressed, off the meds that I needed in a bad place and contemplated suicide.”
The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes provided the assistance he needed to warm his home and put food in his cabinets. That was just the beginning, as more needs were identified they were either met directly by the Coalition or other resources were brought in to fill the gaps. In addition to providing aid and services, the Coalition also provided income through their Heroes Thanking Heroes initiative that provides jobs for disabled vets and their spouses by calling donors and thanking them personally. As it was described to him the coalition gives “hands up and not handouts.”
Batchelor’s spouse, Antoinette, started work with the initiative and is now the program manager for the Coalition’s Veteran’s Circle program. Mrs. Batchelor’s program recently sent 14 combat wounded veterans and their spouses from northeast Texas on a trip to New York City and Washington, D.C. As a part of the healing process they visited the 9/11 Memorial, met with celebrity supporters and engaged in couples counseling.
The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes has provided much needed services to veterans who would otherwise would have gotten lost in the VA system and the daunting task to provide aftercare to those in the most need. If you wish to support the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes their website is, www.saluteheroes.org, which provides the various options for those wishing to help, to include, making a donation. If you wish to make a donation to support reducing the number of veteran suicides a memorable amount is that of a $22 donation. You can spread the word by posting a video of yourself or your group saluting the American flag for two minutes and twenty-two seconds, with the hash tag “#22Standing” in the description.
If you wish to know more about the Civil Air Patrol you may visit, www.gocivilairpatrol.com. The Texarkana Squadron meets every Sunday at 2:00 P.M. at 55 Globe Ave #13, Texarkana, Arkansas.