“The suicide hotline received more than 88,000 calls, texts and chats in March [2023] — the highest amount of monthly contacts it has ever had, new data shows.”

-NBC News

Rob and I, and our brothers and sisters-in-arms have seen this issue close-up, and in recent years watched some of the most resilient and “together” people choose to end their life. The impact of seemingly “strong warriors” taking their lives is particularly troubling for their families and the military community. We all are now guessing at what could have taken them down that path to an irreversible decision.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it is supposed to shine a light on the critical need to understand and treat mental health problems. May is also Military Appreciation Month, and for the military community, many mental health problems can lead to suicide. Today, the military community is in the midst of a severe crisis and the nation is not doing enough to reverse it.

For years, the military community has grappled with a growing number of suicides. For the purposes of this article, we define the military community as both those currently in uniform and veterans, and their loved ones. We can remember the spike in suicides among active-duty members around 2005-08.  While the Army took steps to try to address the causes of the increase, the numbers just kept growing and the suicide rate in the veteran community also grew over the last two decades.

For many years, advocates trying to raise awareness of this crisis used the number 22 a day to highlight the large number of military folks affected in comparison to the non-veteran population. In 2022 Duke University and the University of Alabama revealed that their studies put the number closer to double that number of suicides per day. Forty-four suicides a day in the military community is unacceptable.

Recent NBC news reporting on the dramatic increase in cries for help to the VA, should be a warning sign that we might be at the beginning of a storm, not the end of it.

A Call to Action

Jason and I, along with some friends are using music to try to help decrease the suicide numbers in the military. We are one small effort, and we know that the entire nation needs to step forward and put their combined efforts into understanding this crisis and finding solutions. The nation cannot expect veterans (and their loved ones) to be the main effort in helping veterans through this moment. The nation sent them to war, the entire nation should feel the obligation to help.

There are many ways everyone can help simply by funding organizations that help curb the military suicide crisis. Many of the most capable organizations getting ahead of the suicide moment, and treating the causes, are outside the government. Find them in your community and support them.

On our song’s website, we are compiling a list of organizations that are doing good works. Donate directly to any of the organizations we hope to support with our song. Or find another local effort that is offering assistance that might help to reduce suicide rates in the military community

If you do not have money to help organizations assisting the military community, consider volunteering with an organization that is working on this critical issue. They would appreciate your time. Many organizations countering the crisis are veteran-led and need your help, they are tired too.

You should also ask your local, state, and federal leaders to put more effort into understanding and solving this crisis. Find out if they are even aware of the issues and if they are engaged in forming solutions.

You can also try listening to our song with a member of the military community or their family and try to start a dialogue…and see if they can use help. Don’t wait for military members and veterans to ask for help…reach out and find out.

Remember that most people will not ask for help when they are in crisis. We hope they can hold on, while our nation tries to get help to them.

What We Are Doing

The band Over, Never Out was formed to raise awareness of the suicide crisis in the U.S. military community and raise money for organizations across America that are helping the military community to cope with the trauma and stress of service.

This is important to our 11 bandmates and five engineers/producers and to so many others. We’d like to see the song start more national conversations and spur some more efforts to slow this crisis of suicide in the military community.

Our new song called “Hold On, Reach Out” released this month. It takes on this issue in many ways. It is a call for help from the nation, a possible bit of support for military families. It is a fundraiser, and maybe it is even a letter directly to a veteran in need so they know they are not alone right now.

A critical topic that my bandmate and I discussed today is the ease in which many people expect the person in agony to drag themselves out of it. Simply telling them to call a phone number is not enough.

The song has many intended audiences and we want to be clear about them up-front. One audience is the veterans that are doing ok…we ask that they reach out and check on their buddies…use your skills and hyper vigilance to watch for those in trouble. Another audience is the non-veteran community…we need you to step up and help us curb this crisis in any way you can. Do your part, and don’t leave it to veterans and their families to solve this.

Another audience is the military member and veteran in that dark place…Hold On, we are coming to help you. Reach out if you can, but we know this is hard.

Our band has pledged to give away over half of the profits of this song to organizations that are doing important work across the country to help our military community.

Here is how you can assist us in using this song to make an impact:

  • Purchase and download the song wherever you buy digital music
  • Ask your local radio stations to play this song
  • Buy this song on a vinyl record or CD
  • Stream the music on your favorite service
  • Tell your friends about this song and ask them to purchase a copy and tell their friends about it.

Doing our parts

Most of the effective nonprofits helping curb suicide in the military community are run by veterans, but most also struggle to fundraise and network in the community to get full support. We know this is where our song can help, and your fundraising efforts can help.

If you are a community leader, or want to be…find or start an organization that can bring the best techniques into your area to help veterans.

Remember we are helping veterans not victims. These patriots volunteered to serve the nation, and we need you to volunteer to serve them in return.

Please do not put the weight of this massive problem on the tired shoulders of veterans and their families.

Together we can reverse this crisis.

Thanks to everyone that is already in this fight, we know this is extremely hard and that often the very people helping are the same ones in need of help themselves. We hope to have some song profits soon to send your way.

Hold on, we are coming, and hopefully we are bringing even more help with us soon.

Jason and Rob

#suicidepreventionawareness #military #veterans #veteran #community #suicide #mentalhealth


Guest writer Robert Dufresne is a retired Special Operations specialist who now dedicates his life to music and helping veterans and their families. He is a member of numerous bands, as a drummer and vocalist. He is a co-producer and engineer of the song “Hold On, Reach Out,” which he also helped write, and plays instruments on, and provides vocals for. He is a co-owner of the Pine Gap Audio studio in North Carolina; where the song was refined, produced, and recorded.

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Jason spent 23 years in USG service conducting defense, diplomacy, intelligence, and education missions globally. Now he teaches, writes, podcasts, and speaks publicly about Islam, foreign affairs, and national security. He is a member of the Military Writers Guild and aids with conflict resolution in Afghanistan.