VA summit aims to end soldier suicide

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JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (WIBW) - One death is one too many. That's a statement echoed by nearly 300 veterans and civilians Friday at the Eastern Kansas Veterans Affairs Suicide Prevention Summit.

Their goal is simple - end soldier suicide.

Robert Howard with the Combat Veteran Motorcycle Association believes in the cause, "One is too many," he said.

The Combat Veteran Motorcycle Association was just one of dozens of groups at the Courtyard Marriott.

Organizations set up booths filled with resources and pamphlets veterans can use in times of need.

They say they biggest thing is supporting veterans on a more personal level.

Several guest speakers came to the event, including Jason Hall and Scott Haze of the movie, “Thank You for Your Service.”

A fitting title – the theme of the summit was "Beyond Thank You.”

Organizers say that means going beyond the usual, “Thank you for your service,” line veterans are used to hearing.

Joseph Burks, representing the Eastern Kansas VA said, "We need to get into their lives, we need to understand their stories, we need to share experiences with our veteran community so that we can keep them from going to that place that potentially could be the end of their life."

That community emphasis was underscored by Rudy Klopfer, the C.E.O. of the Eastern Kansas VA.

He said, "It takes a village. It's not about the VA, it's about everyone around us."