“It starts with that isolation of thinking they’re alone…”
Every day, 20 veterans take their own lives. Rod Wittmier, Army veteran and founder of the National Alliance to End Veteran Suicide, is taking a stand against it.
Wittmier is a Cold War veteran. He went into the service at the tail end of the Vietnam War and entered the Army Security Agency, which was the U.S. Army’s signal intelligence branch; it was responsible for communications security and for electronic countermeasures operations. After he made specialist fifth class, Wittmier left the military and started his career in technology. When he discovered the VA statistic of 18 veteran suicides per day in 2008, he was determined to make a difference.
“I’d never really stood up and claimed to be a veteran,” Wittmier stated. “So I said, ‘Okay, now it’s my turn.’”
The National Alliance got its start under the Veterans Family Fund of America in 2008, and became an independent nonprofit six years later. Their biggest goal is to create community; they emphasize community events that bring veterans together and allow them to connect.
“Often, people just need to be heard. They don’t need to know what you know, they need to know that you care,” Wittmier said.
The acronym T.E.A.M. — Together Everyone Achieves Miracles — is key to the National Alliance’s operation. They prioritize collaboration to provide meaningful and accessible resources for veterans everywhere. They’re joining forces with Aetna Insurance to create Veteran Community Action Networks (VCANs) in cities across America. For struggling veterans and their family, the National Alliance is promoting a workshop on September 21st that Wittmier refers to as a “destination.”
“Our focus areas are education, resources, research and community, and the most prominent educational thing that we’ve done is Operation Veteran Freedom,” Wittmier said. “It’s like an operator’s guide to your brain.”
Designed to help veterans come to terms with their trauma, this comprehensive workshop will teach you how to forge success in your life today. It’s run by a Vietnam era Combat Marine, who survived a mass casualty in which 95 of his fellow Marines were killed. He has helped over 20,000 people around the world discover freedom from their past, and hope for their future.
“[Operation Veteran Freedom] is not like anything anybody’s ever experienced before,” Wittmier said. “It’s saving lives.”
The next Operation Veteran Freedom will be held on Friday, September 21st, from 9 AM to 4 PM at the Bremerton VFW — VFW Post 239, 190 Dora Ave, Bremerton, WA 98312. It is free to active service members, veterans, and their families. There will be another event held the following day at Concordia University in Portland. To learn more, visit:
To accomplish his goal of ending veteran suicide, Wittmier urges everyone, including civilians, to step up for our veterans. Supporting and encouraging them to do great work can have a domino effect — one that will lift up the entire country.
“If there’s something that’s needed in your community, ask your veterans,” Wittmier advised. “They’re highly trained, and they have leadership. What they want that’s missing in our nation is to feel like they’re needed.”
To find out more about this cause and how you can contribute, visit: