League City group helping vets cope for 11 years In 2012, the suicide rate among United States military veterans averaged 21 a day. Veteran Jerry Clark and fellow vets Dan Sedej, Pete Wolfe, Steve, and Linda Parr, along with “Gunny” Bob Syndele, saw the headlines and knew something had to be done. They figured if there was a solution, a grassroots and local effort would be the best route. Their focus was to provide a safe place for military vets to meet with other veterans to talk and listen without judgment. Eleven years later, Transitionplus is still going, and what started with 6 vets has grown into a regular attendance of about 30 veterans. “This is where (veterans) can come and discuss things without judgment,” Clark said. Each Thursday night, veterans of all military branches gather in a small room at Bay Harbour United Methodist Church. Their spouses or children are welcome, too. Vietnam War era US Army vet David Frazier said the group has helped him with his Veterans Affairs benefits and dealing with personal struggles. “It’s helped me a lot,” Frazier said. “It’s helped me with bad memories and nightmares. Everybody in here helps each other.” He even hands out cards to veterans he meets to attend the weekly meetings. “It’s comradely,” said Tom Latson, a U.S. Army Cobra helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War. “We’re friends, but we are friends who have lived (a harsh) life, been on the other side of the world in miserable conditions. Even though I’m 80, there are guys here in their 20s that I can identify with, and they can identify with me, and we help each other.” Marine Corps veteran Michael McDonald, 33, who was deployed to Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan, is one of those younger veterans who appreciates the meetings. “With PTSD and stuff coming back from Afghanistan or war or just dealing with the military in general, it’s not an easy transition when you get out of the service,” McDonald said. “By finding (Transitions Plus) and getting help and talking with other veterans who’ve been there is irreplaceable. “I can’t imagine not being here.” That’s the point, said Clark, himself a Marine veteran. “When we started, there were so many groups doing so much more that we couldn’t do,” Clark said. “We decided just to have the group come and share their experience with one another. To come here listen, support, just to be there for one another.” That proved to be just as important. “The men and women who come here feel so safe, they feel dignified,” Clark said. “I can’t say enough about this group. It’s powerful, it’s welcoming.” While nationally, veteran suicide rates dropped slightly over the past five years (17.5 a day, according to the VA), recent data shows an uptick in the last two years. That’s why Transitionplus will continue to meet because as long as there are veterans, the mission will never end, Clark said. “There have been those who have attended, and they were just on the edge,” he said. “This group has been there to listen and step in and help.” Transitionplus meets every Thursday at 6:30 PM at Bay Harbour United Methodist Church, 3459 Deke Slayton Parkway in League City.
Posted by i45NOW TJ Aulds at 2023-11-12 05:32:02 UTC