AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - This week, the Austin City Council is honoring those who have served our country. At Thursday's council meeting, city leaders held their traditional Memorial Day ceremony.
And on Friday, Mayor Steve Adler urged the community to move beyond words of gratitude...to acts of gratitude. "These are folks that have served with pride and distinction and now it is time for us to serve them," Adler said.
Adler says the "Mayor's Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans and their Families" is about taking a public health approach to addressing the mental health struggles of those that have served in our armed forces.
Adler says there are a few things everyone in Austin can do: See and notice veterans, stay connected and make sure they know what resources are available to them.
"Before each of us go to bed tonight unfortunately about 20 to 22 veterans will commit suicide," said Allen Bergeron, the City's Veterans Program Administrator.
Bergeron says many vets are fighting the 'war within.' "We all have as I did when I was in the Marines, we 'stuff it.' Internally we just stuff it because that's what we were taught to do," Bergeron said.
Veteran Allan Umana is featured in a new PSA from the City.
He joined the Marine Corps in '05 and eventually did a tour of duty in Iraq. He works as a financial consultant for Parks and Rec. In 2014 he started to struggle at work.
"The stresses of life, having a family, responsibility, just having to produce and the underlying issues from the symptoms that I deal with just started to come up," Umana said,
Umana reached out to his superiors and eventually get a call from Allen Bergeron. "He reached out to me as a friend...the City and any workplace you keep things professional and he reached out as a friend. And that genuine connection really meant a lot to me," Umana said.
He says the city helped him get the help he needed.
"I don't recognize the Allan I used to be in May 2014," Umana said.
If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text to 741-741