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Advocating for Veteran Suicide Prevention in Central Texas

21 Jun 2022 — 2 min read

By Jennifer Warnick

Jennifer looks into the distance

Bringing the Interactive Screening Program to South Carolina

This Volunteer Spotlight Story originally appeared in AFSP’s 2021 Annual Report. To read other inspiring Volunteer Spotlight Stories, and learn more about our exciting work, click here.

You have attended six Advocacy Forums. What is advocacy, and what does it mean to advocate for suicide prevention?

Advocacy means asking your representatives for their support of legislation that relates to a cause you believe is important, like suicide prevention. AFSP’s annual Advocacy Forum is a great way to gain knowledge of any new or current legislation we want to push for, meet other volunteer Field Advocates across the nation just like you, and discover what has or has not worked for them in their own districts. You also get tips on how to speak with a representative regarding the purpose of your visit. AFSP’s Policy Team sets all the volunteers up for success.

What kind of legislation do you personally think is important?

As an Army veteran, knowing that AFSP supports legislation that makes suicide prevention a priority for Veterans, Service Members and their families is very important to me. The military trains you to “suck it up,” and the silent struggles are often ignored. This atmosphere doesn’t go away when you transition back into the civilian world. No one understands what you have witnessed, felt, or were subjected to. It’s hard to explain to your loved ones, and it’s even harder for them to understand how to help you when you are trapped in your own mental turmoil. Knowing that AFSP is fighting for me, for my fellow active duty Service members and our families, gives me hope that change will come, and more Veterans will see that asking for help is the exact opposite of weakness. It is actually a strength.

What does the phrase #MentalHealth4All mean to you?

I lost my beautiful mom at the young age of 50 in 2011. She had battled depression since she was in her teens. #MentalHealth4All means changing things for future generations. I have been open with my daughters since day one of losing my mom, their “nanna Di.” I have shown them compassion and empathy through my involvement with AFSP, taught them the warning signs, and let them know, “It’s okay not to be okay.”

I brought my two older daughters along with me to meetings on “The Hill” during past Advocacy Forums. My hope is that they will be even better advocates than I am. Throughout my AFSP journey, they have witnessed how impactful just one voice can be. They know their voice is powerful. If our representatives see the need, they will listen. Every voice is loud, but together we are LOUDER!

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