What is “22Kill”
In 2012, the VA released a Suicide Data Report that and average of 22 veterans are “KILLED By Suicide” (KBS) everyday. The name “22KILL” is meant to grab people’s attention, because our primary mission begins with raising awareness to the issue. Suicide prevention is a very difficult task to undertake, especially when the general public is unaware of the issue in the first place. In order to prevent or “fix” a problem, one must first learn and understand the problem itself and its causes. By educating ourselves, we’ll be able to identify the triggers that can lead someone to thoughts of suicide, and confront those issues as they come, rather than letting them accumulate into something much worse.
Under #22KILL is also the #22SAVED program. The focus of 22Saved is to give faces to the “22”; to save them from the obscurity of just being a number. It is a forum where families and friends of veterans who have lost their battle to suicide can connect with each other, and help each other to cope. They can share stories and pictures of these veterans to keep their legacy alive.
Most importantly, this forum can be a deterrent for veterans who may be contemplating suicide. By seeing and reading about the effects that suicide has on families and friends, this may help them understand that we, among others, really do love and care about them. And maybe the veteran will be able to reach out to someone who will listen and not pass judgment, whether it’s through the VA hotline or a call to a random veterans’ advocate (aka battle buddy) that has volunteered to simply be there and listen in the time of need.
How can I help?
Become a Veterans’ Advocate and show your support with an Honor Ring. 92-96% of #22KILL sales and donations go towards empowerment programs through Honor Courage Commitment, Inc. (official 501c3 tax-exempt charitable organization). HCC has a holistic approach to helping veterans transitioning out of the military. By having an actionable plan, preferably prior to even leaving the service, veterans are less likely to fall into what we call a “downward spiral” – which can include loss of identity and self-worth, depression, and drug and alcohol abuse.
For the past 3.5 years, HCC has helped veterans find a “sense of purpose” after serving in the military by focusing on education, mentorship, and community service. HCC creates elite veterans. By leveraging the valuable skill sets instilled in our veterans to make positive impacts in the community, this continues our veterans’ “sense of purpose” after serving, which embodies our ethos of “service after service.”
Most veterans earn the GI Bill which is basically a full ride to school. It is absurd not to use it. College may not be for everyone, but there are many other options in education that can be more fitting to the veteran; ie trade schools, certifications, etc.
Whether you were a Private or General in the in service, you always had a higher rank or someone that held you accountable. After transitioning out of the military, a qualified mentor who aligns with your goals can be your next battle buddy. The mentor not only holds you accountable to your goals, but can open doors and make introductions for you in business. The mentor can also be a person for you to confide in that can listen and provide valuable advice and make connections.
Why Community Service?
Serving in the military can give veterans a heightened sense of purpose. There is not anything more honorable than serving others and by utilizing the skill sets already instilled in veterans (leadership, team building/management, logistics, etc), everyone wins – local communities get to reap the benefits from the talents of our trained assets and the veterans get to continue serving – keeping their identity and sense of purpose.
Veteran Advocates aka “Battle Buddies” wear the #22KILL Honor Ring™ – a black band worn on the right index finger symbolizing the “trigger finger”. By choosing to become part of Team #22KILL and wearing this ring, you are committed to:
- Research and learn about your local veteran service organizations and what their missions and needs are
- Focus on veteran strengths and challenge negative attitudes around veteran “issues”
- Advocate for veterans in a positive light in any platform you have
- Raise awareness to the issues of veteran suicide, and follow up with a positive solution through education and empowerment through programs offered from local nonprofits and veteran service organizations
- Believing that veterans are America’s greatest asset and learning to love them and showing them that you care
What is the meaning of the rings?
The Honor Ring™ is a black band worn on the index finger as a “silent salute” to all veterans, past and present. This ring is a symbol of respect and simply says that you support those who have served our military. As a part of the #22KILL program, it is also a reminder to us as veterans and veteran supporters that we are never alone; that we are all family.
Do I have to be a veteran to wear an Honor Ring™?
No you do not. Any person who supports those who serve(d) (active warriors, veterans, friends and family members) can show their appreciation by wearing an Honor Ring™ on the right index finger.
Why is the ring worn on the index finger?
That is exactly why. Because it raises questions, which in turn raises awareness. It stands out as something that is easily identifiable, as opposed to just another ring on the ring finger. You can see a black ring on the index finger and know right away what it represents.
Aside from that, there is also a deeper, less talked about meaning behind the ring, and why we reference the “trigger finger”. In the U.S., gun shots are the most common method of suicide. #22KILL wants to “black out” the trigger finger, as a reminder and a way of saying that this needs to stop. If, God forbid, a person with the ring ever reaches that point of considering suicide, then maybe feeling that ring on their finger will remind them that they are never alone, and that help is always available.