West Michigan S.A.I.L. Program Launched to Prevent Veteran Suicides

PENTWATER, Mich., Jan. 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The West Michigan S.A.I.L. Program (WMSP) today announced that the not-for-profit-organization has formally launched a fund-raising campaign to support critically needed programming for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), formerly known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which has exponentially worsened with the Covid-19 Pandemic, widespread unemployment and political unrest.

WMSP, which received not-for-profit status on June 27, 2018, and tax-exempt status on September 5, 2019, also announced that the organization has acquired four well-equipped sail boats, including one outfitted for handicapped sailors, and three dinghies for use in programming designed to give veterans the team-and mission-inspired experience of learning to sail, and in doing so, learn to heal their demons. "Veteran suicides averaged 22 per day before the Pandemic," said Lee Price, founder and president of WMSP. "The economic impacts wreaked by the Pandemic have worsened conditions for most newly discharged veterans and our board of directors recently said, enough is enough," Price said. Michigan's suicide rate among younger veterans is the highest in the nation.

According to U.S. military records, veterans are 1.5 times more likely to take their own lives than people that never served in the military. Female veterans are more than two-times more likely to take their own lives, according to the same data. Suicides in general are at their highest levels since 1941. A five-year high, more than 200 Michigan veterans took their own lives in 2018, the last year data is available from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

To help veterans suffering from PTS, as early as spring-2021 the WMSP is planning to offer programs for veterans in a seven-county area that includes Oceana, Mason, Newaygo, Muskegon, Osceola, Mecosta and Lake Counties. Utilizing programming designed specifically for veterans suffering from PTS, the WMSP will introduce the Basic Keelboat Class to as many as 12 veterans per week, utilizing both classroom and on-the-water-experiences, to give veterans the shared learning experience of sailing. According to the Veterans Administration, there are more than 27,000 veterans living in the seven-county region that comprises the WMSP's service area. More than 6,000 veterans in the seven-county region are actively being treated at VA facilities across Michigan, which is home to more than 500,000 veterans.

Individuals interested in doing something about West Michigan veteran suicides, and helping those suffering with PTS issues, should contact the WMSP to find out how they can help by emailing the organization at westmichigansailprogram@gmail.com. Contributions to WMSP are tax deductible and can be sent to: West Michigan Sail Program, PO Box 434, Pentwater, MI 49449.

If you are a veteran in crisis or concerned about one, call the VA's Veterans Crisis Line at 800 273-8255.

Mark Trierweiler
517 899-6330

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SOURCE The West Michigan S.A.I.L. Program