Director of EPCC’s Veterans Resource Center (VRC) Arvis Jones and United States Navy Veteran Dora Hernandez held each other while holding back tears after Hernandez spoke at the Veterans Suicide Awareness event on September 10.
El Paso Community College’s Veteran Resource Center hosted the awareness event in honor of veterans whom have taken their lives and to spread information, in hopes of preventing future tragedies.
Claudia Silva / Tejano Tribune
Member or Color guard Mariscal, Carlos Molina, Gladys Rivas, Fernando Torres and Andrew Garcia
The event was kicked off with an opening ceremony with the Texas National Guard Color Guard presented the American and Texas flag and the National Anthem and a prayer by chaplain Chuy Zamora followed by Hernandez’s speech.
“I am a suicide survivor,” explained Hernandez, “In 2013 I attempted to commit suicide. If it wasn’t for my son, my oldest son, I would probably not be here right now.”
Hernandez, served in the Navy from the year 1993 to 2001 and is now a mother of two sons, Martin and her eldest son Marco, whom now is 24 years old , who was the one who saved her life all those years ago.
She went on to explain that people who commit suicide or attempt it have usually been thinking about it for a long time.
“I didn’t just wake up and say ‘okay, I’m going to take a bunch of pills today,’” stated Hernandez.
Hernandez goes on explaining that she had been thinking about it for many months before that day stating she felt like “people were better off without me.”
The next thing she remembered was being in the hospital and being admitted into the University of Behavioral Health, a facility that offers both inpatient and outpatient treatment for people in crisis.
Throughout the event cards could be found containing facts such as “the number of military suicides exceeds the total of those killed in combat,” and “female veterans are, sadly, 250 times more likely to commit suicide than their civilian counterparts.”
Jones has worked with veterans throughout her career here at EPCC and explained she simply cannot imagine the pain some veterans go through during their service. She goes on explaining how difficult it is for a veteran that was forced to kill, in order to protect their country, to come home and try to resume a normal life.
Jones and other members at the VRC want veterans at EPCC to know that they have resources available to them. A Veterans’ Lounge is now open at the Transmountain campus giving veterans at EPCC a place to relax and meet others.
“The opening of the Veterans’ Lounge affords and opportunity for veterans to come together as comrades and fellow students in an area to call their own,” stated Jones when the lounge first opened.
Jones would also like Veterans at EPCC to know that their doors are always open at the VRC to help with any issues they may have, especially if they are considering ending their own life.
Outside the cafeteria annex stood a display of 22 flags and 22 boots representing the number of American veterans that commit suicide every day according to a 2012 study.
The event was held on World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), a day meant to spread awareness and break down the social stigma around discussing suicide. The first WSPD was held back in 2003 by the World Health Organization and has continued every year since then.
All the presenters that day came from different backgrounds, some were educators, others were veterans or religious figures, but they all have one common message. If you, or someone you love is thinking about ending their life, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
If you are a veteran considering suicide you can call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-278-8255.
If you are not a veteran you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Both lines are available 24/7.