MOSCOW, August 6 (RIA Novosti) - Captain Justin Fitch, diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012, is devoting what could be his last days trying to “reverse the epidemic of veteran suicide,” ArmyTimes reported.
Captain Justin Fitch, diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer more than two years ago, still in command of a research and development company at the US Army’s Natick Labs, overcomes his gradually wilting health to raise money for the needs of NGOs dealing with veterans’ issues, and more specifically, "the epidemic of veteran suicide" in the United States.
“It [resolving the suicide epidemic] cannot be successful without hope and growth and support. It’s an impossible task it seems like some days — 8,000 a year — but even if it’s one life that we save, all the effort’s worth it,” said Fitch as quoted by the ArmyTimes.
Despite his physical condition, Fitch has taken part in a number of army-style ruck marches, fundraising for the Carry the Fallen and Active Heroes charities.
A total of $112,000 raised by his team, $60,000 by Fitch personally, is to partially be used to fund home repairs for veterans. Additionally, a portion of the sum is to be allocated to an ambitious project – a large retreat in Kentucky where vets would be able to heal their souls with their families.
There were over 21 million veterans in the US, as of 2012, according to the US Census Bureau, while data uncovered by a News21 investigative journalism project show that about 49,000 American veterans have committed a suicide between 2005 and 2011.
Statistically, ex-servicemen are twice as likely to die by their own hand as civilians, with 30 in 100,000 deaths resulting from suicide compared to a civilian rate of 14 in 100,000. The News21 research also shows that veterans account for 18-20 percent of all suicides in the US.