FREMONT – Each month, 660 United States military veterans commit suicide, suffering from combat related PTSD, anxiety, depression and other ailments. Flags for Forgotten Soldiers wants to shine a light on this issue by bringing 660 American flags to Fremont’s Veterans Park.
Flags for Forgotten Soldiers was founded by Howard Berry, in memory of his son, SSG Joshua Berry, who died by suicide in February 2013 as a result of complicated PTSD Joshua suffered after witnessing the shooting at Fort Hood in 2009. After the loss of his son, Howard and his family joined 660 other families that year who lost a veteran family member to suicide. The mission of Flags for Forgotten Soldiers is to organize displays in each of the 50 states, raise awareness about veterans mental health, and motivate our state and federal leadership to better care for these men and women.
Flags for Forgotten Soldiers was first displayed in Fremont just last year. Meredith Smith, a longtime Fremont resident, lost her veteran father to suicide in August of 2017. Al, a Vietnam veteran, struggled with PTSD and a traumatic brain injury before his death. With the help of Chris Madsen, Veterans Park Chairman, and numerous volunteers, a powerful display was created at the Fremont Park for the first time.
The Veterans Park will once again display the Flags for Forgotten Soldiers, beginning September 28th. Volunteers to place the 660 flags are needed, and the display will be open to the public for a full month – symbolizing the 660 veterans who will die by suicide within that 30 days.
To volunteer your time for this project, contact Chris Madsen with the Veterans Park/Avenue of Flags at (402) 541-4482.
September is Suicide Prevention Month. If you need help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, available 24 hours a day, every day. You can also text CONNECT to 741741 for support via text message. Veterans can find specific support at https://stopsoldiersuicide.org