COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Military veterans from around the country traveled to Columbus this weekend for a special reunion at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum.
Studies show that roughly 22 veterans a day commit suicide around the country. This alarming statistic inspired these veterans to share their unique struggles with post-traumatic stress in the exhibit called Depicting the Invisible, on display at the memorial.
“It made me want to be there more for other veterans when, at the time, I wanted to not go about life anymore,” said Army veteran Ken Weinert.
Weinert has found a new purpose in life after he lost the use of his right hand while serving in combat in Iraq.
“When I first got hurt, I was in a pretty bad place and I wanted to be dead,” he said. “I mean why am I home sitting here stateside when my battle buddies are all still overseas fighting that war?”
Weinert bravely shared his own thoughts of suicide with artist Susan J. Baron in 2018. Nearly four years after Depicting the Invisible first debuted to the public, the veterans came together for a reunion dinner.
“We’re a family,” he said. “We really are a family.”
A family who aims to break the stigma surrounding mental health among veterans as the portrait series will travel across the country. But on this night, they also set a special table for a member of their family.
“A formal dining table set for one…for the veteran that will never come home,” Baron said.
“She’s made this art gallery go around and literally brought our stories to the attention to hopefully we can stop the 22 veterans,” Weinert said. “In my opinion, it’s more like 27 veterans that are committing suicide a day.”
Depicting the Invisible will be on display at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum until Feb. 21.
For help, call the ‘1 Is Too Many’ crisis line for veterans at 1-800-OH-AMVET or 1-800-642-6838. Click here to access the website.