Demonstration in Minot to end mental health stigma in military

Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 6:49 PM CST
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MINOT, N.D. (KMOT) - There have been more than 30,000 deaths by suicide between service members and veterans since 9/11, according to the Watson Institute at Brown University.

This week you may have seen someone standing on the sidewalk along the Broadway Bridge in Minot holding a sign that asks for an end to the stigma of mental health among service members.

Minot resident Lisa Hermosillo has been demonstrating for three days this week.

A day for each of three recent suicides.

She said the numbers are unsettling and she is doing what she can to bring the public’s attention to the issue.

“Those are service members. Those are people fighting for our country. That hurts all of us, some just bringing awareness out there is that suicide continues to be a really big issue in the military,” said Hermosillo.

In a statement, Minot Air Force Base says each incident is under active investigation.

Randy McDonald, executive director of Together with Veterans, which is a group that focuses on preventing rural veteran suicide, said there are several organizations around town that offer peer support.

“We’ve done horseback riding, we’ve done kayaking. We’ve done all these activities designed to get people out of their house and engaged with other people,” said McDonald.

“This is not a topic that leadership teams take lightly, and there is considerable effort put in to prevent and respond to these tragedies. There are a variety of resources in place to provide support systems for our Airmen and families in times of need. We worked with higher headquarters to make extra chaplains, counselors, and mental health professionals available to support those who are grieving. Over the last year we have also grown the Resiliency Training Assistant program to provide in-unit, peer-to-peer support for incidents just like this.”

Full statement from Col. Daniel Hoadley, 5th Bomb Wing commander

“The loss of any Airman affects us as a team. We aim to respect the privacy and care of our members and their families in the wake of these events, and we must continue to advocate for various support systems through the Air Force and the local community to ensure that those who need to seek help are able to do so.”

Full statement from Col. Kenneth McGhee, 91st Missile Wing commander

On Base:

  • Disaster Mental Health Program
  • Department of the Air Force Integrated Resilience

Military Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8355 (Press 1)