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More than 5,000 American flags placed at National Mall to bring awareness to veteran suicide

National and World
veteran suicide flags

More than 5,000 American flags were placed on the National Mall today.

A big job by veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan to draw attention to veteran suicide.

The group says each day, 20 active duty military and veterans take their own lives. 

One by one supporter of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America placed 5,520 flags on the national mall.

Participants say it represents the number of active duty service members and veterans who have taken their own lives this year.

“This is a very strong reminder that we are still in war. Every single day the results of this war cause 20 or so to kill their lives,” said Stephanie Keegan. 

Stephanie’s son Daniel died from a drug overdose. While he didn’t commit suicide Keegan says it’s important to raise awareness about PTSD and its impact on those who serve. 

“We are sending our children out there they are coming back broken hearted and in need of help,” Keegan said.

The Department of Veteran’s Affairs says it is boosting efforts to prevent veteran suicides.

VA officials say steps include improving access to same-day mental health care and outreach programs like the department’s new “be there” campaign.

“Really a call to action to every citizen in America to make sure everybody knows that they do have a role to play when it comes to saving veterans lives,” said Keita Franklin, executive director of Suicide Prevention for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Dr. Franklin says “be there” highlights risk factors and warning signs of suicide. 

The public service campaign includes a video from secretary Wilkie encouraging open conversations about mental health. 

People hope showing their support will help save service members’ lives.

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