Non-profit aimed to prevent veteran suicide opens location in Wilder, KY
(Editor’s note: This story was originally published on April 3, 2021 at 3:06 PM EDT - Updated April 3 at 4:43 PM on www.fox19.com)
WILDER, KY (Great Health Divide) - A non-profit aimed to help prevent veteran suicide officially opened their doors in Wilder, KY Saturday.
22 Until Valhalla, founded by Zach McGuffey in 2015, now has a location on Gloria Terrell Drive.
“We need veterans and civilians to work together to help mitigate this epidemic in the veteran community,” McGuffey said.
The 22 signifies the 22 veterans that commit suicide daily.
“Eight years ago, after I returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan and I got out of the Marine Corps, I tried to commit suicide. Then nine months after that, my best friend committed suicide.”
McGuffey then started a Facebook page connecting veterans and offering support. Then people began donating money, and the non-profit was founded.
He says that the number of veteran suicides has gone up dramatically during the pandemic.
McGuffey says that his children, yoga, jiujitsu, and friends have helped him prevent him from trying to commit suicide again.
He hopes this warrior hall can be a place where people come to exercise, seek help, and feel connected.
“When you have the community aspect, you start making friends, making relationships, and getting outside. Because I know a lot of veterans have social anxiety, they isolated themselves, and a lot of veterans are overweight as well, so getting veterans involved in fitness, making friendships which when you’re not in the gym you can call on people,” McGuffey said.
McGuffey says he will open the gym anytime. For now, he plans to open the door daily when his other job ends at 3:30 p.m.
“This is just something I want to give to my veterans, a healthy alternative,” McGuffey said.
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