Look beyond the numbers

Published 9:31 pm Thursday, October 18, 2018

It has been widely publicized that 22 military veterans commit suicide a day. This is a jarring number.

After some time, statistics can lose their weight, but everyone at the Combat Wounded Coalition’s 12th Jumping for a Purpose were reminded why it’s important to look beyond the numbers.

Ron Condrey was a U.S. Navy veteran who suffered from mental health issues that stemmed from his combat-related traumatic brain injuries. Condrey lost the battle against his demons three weeks before he was set to join the Overcome Academy and jump with other combat wounded veterans.

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Jason Redman, founder of CWC and the Overcome Academy, along with Condrey’s wife, spoke about his life and how important it is to help veterans overcome their mental health issues and continue to raise money for resources.

There wasn’t a dry eye at Skydive Suffolk.

Jumping for a Purpose was the culmination of the second Overcome Academy, and multiple combat wounded veterans had the chance to take a step toward overcoming by jumping out of the plane.

The program, Overcome Academy, is another facet of the Combat Wounded Coalition, and it’s a program that teaches leadership skills, purpose, resiliency, communication and nutrition.

While the program is still relatively new, those that have participated believe that the information and experience was invaluable.

Osvaldo “Ozzie” Martinez, a former corporal in the Marine Corps, graduated from the academy, and the experience gave him the opportunity to change his perspective on life. Rather than pushing the world away and being distrustful, Martinez is ready to move forward.

A change of perspective was the same experience Chad Shevlin, a former sergeant in the Marine Corps, had during the 14-day program.

Shevlin was emotional before his chance to jump, and he recognized a change in his mental state in such a short amount of time. That’s something he is grateful for.

To hear these stories and to see the emotions of these veterans made my heart swell. The military teaches these veterans to be tough guys, and they try to maintain that tough-guy mentality when they come home.

Jason Redman is doing work that is essential, and I hope he is able to expand the Overcome Academy farther than Hampton Roads.

Both organizations could always use help with funding and mentors. Redman hopes that both of these things come to help the organization to expand.

More information about supporting both of these organizations can be found at combatwoundedcoalition.org.