All eyes are on a Veteran in the back of the hall talking about a guy from the old unit. His buddy had said “I’ll get over this.” But he never did. Then there was the final step, suicide.
Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines: active duty and Veterans of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and peacetime stand together. There’s a brass bell made from a shell casing off of a war ship positioned at center stage. This is Suicide Awareness Night, and the hall is packed.
VFW Post 3631 in Aurora sits at the crossroads of Colfax and Tower Road outside the city of Denver where the plains of eastern Colorado begin. Just over a year ago the post’s commander, Gary Anguilm, read in an article that 22 Veterans were dying by suicide every day. “Being Veterans we decided we wanted to do something about it,” Anguilm said.
And that’s when the idea came to invite the community to come together on the 22nd of every month at the VFW, to learn about Veteran and military suicide and how to help.
Anguilm is a Vietnam Marine Corps Veteran who served two tours in the infantry between 1964 and 1966. He organizes this event with meticulous attention to detail, starting at 5 p.m. with socializing fueled by burgers, hot dogs and fries – free for all Vets. It’s a way to honor them, with the added benefit of drawing in a crowd. At 6 p.m. sharp everything stops, and everyone rises