Recognizing Veterans All Year Across the Construction Suicide Prevention Partnership
Guest Blog Post By: Aimee Johnson
Every year on November 11, we celebrate Veterans Day. All across the United States, there are events, messages, calls to action, and recognition of the estimated eighteen million American Veterans (PEW Research Center) who have served our country.
In the construction community, veterans comprise six percent of the workforce, which puts the construction industry in a strong position to recognize service members, Veterans, and their families (SMVF) for their service and sacrifice.
Here are three actions the CSPP and our supporters can take to integrate suicide prevention strategies for SMVF and civilians all year.
- Increase military and Veteran cultural competency across your organizations by asking, have you or a family member ever served in the military? Asking about military service allows an organization to build a deeper understanding of its workforce, tailor specific programs, acknowledge employees, and share veteran-specific resources. Military service provides unique training and expertise that benefits the construction industry. Working towards a shared mission, serving on teams, and expert training are just a sampling of what military service members and veterans bring to the job site. Implementing the popular “Ask The Question” campaign at your organization can also help to communicate that your organization values military service.
- Promote the use of secure firearm storage. When we talk about suicide in the United States and within the Construction Industry, we need to talk about and promote secure firearm storage. Most firearm-related deaths in the United States are by firearm (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention). In 2020, 71.0% of Veterans who died by suicide used firearms compared to 50.3% of non-veteran adults (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs). We know increasing time and space between firearm access and someone going through a tough personal time can save lives. Gun owners should secure and store their firearms away from vulnerable people in their homes. Keeping firearms secure in safe storage reduces the likelihood of children, friends, guests, and other people in a home dying by suicide or accidental injury.
- Promote peer support in the workplace. The concept of peer support means one person relates to another based on a shared experience which may include recovery from life challenges such as financial hardship, substance use disorders, emotional crisis, and traumatic experiences. Life’s challenges inevitably create stressors and burdens, but with challenges come opportunities to build resiliency and work through our struggles. Veterans are uniquely positioned to establish peer support programs with their peers and family members. Encouraging employees currently facing life stressors to reach out to buddies in the workplace and connect with supportive resources can improve their mental health and create healthy social connections.
- Pew Research Center. For Veterans Day, facts about the US veteran population | Pew Research Center. November 8, 2023.
- Statista. U.S. employed veterans, by industry 2021 | Statista. June 2, 2023.
- State of New Hampshire. New Hampshire Ask The Question Campaign.
- Firearm Deaths Grow, Disparities Widen | VitalSigns | CDC. June 6, 2022.
United States Department of Veterans Affairs. 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report. September 2022.