Following their service, many veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress (PTS) and challenges with acclimating to civilian life. Due to many factors such as a lack of community support and available resources, these veterans often succumb to suicide.
Mission 22, founded by veteran Magnus Johnson, was organized to help combat the suicide epidemic among veterans. It was named in recognition of the statistics suggesting that more than 20 veterans commit suicide each day. This number continues to rise each year, and through its various initiatives, Mission 22 actively seeks to raise awareness of the issue. Its two other primary goals include providing resources for veteran outreach and hosting memorials for veterans who have lost their lives to suicide.
Magnus Johnson served in the United States Army Special Forces, and as a Green Beret, he imagined that he would be able to handle returning to civilian life. However, he struggled, but he connected with another veteran who helped him cope. This support was something Johnson appreciated immensely, but it didn’t last forever. Before long, Johnson learned that the veteran he had come to rely on had committed suicide. Without warning and without displaying any signs, the loss of this veteran hit Johnson hard.
At the time, the topic of veteran suicide was not commonly discussed. Because of his personal experience with the matter, Johnson learned about the shocking numbers of daily veteran suicide attempts and felt compelled to do something about it. In 2012, Mission 22 came into being because of this tragic and life-changing experience.
Mission 22 began with a mission solely geared toward raising awareness of veteran suicide. As a veteran himself, Johnson was shocked that he was unaware of the epidemic and wanted to make fellow veterans and civilians alike know how serious the issue was. Since its inception, Mission 22 has expanded to provide additional services, and they have partnered with other organizations to support art projects and treatment programs. One of their well-known projects is a memorial named “The War At Home Memorial.” This memorial featured 20 metal plaques with the outline of veterans carved out from their centers; they were designed and erected to honor the lives of 20 veterans who were lost from suicide.
Veteran suicide remains a prominent and tragic issue across the country. Organizations like Mission 22 and veterans like Magnus Johnson are aiming to alleviate the stress of adjusting to civilian life following traumatic experiences during deployment by providing resources and increasing awareness.