Americans honored those who have served our country in the armed forces at the Veterans Day Parade in downtown Las Vegas Friday. But as many people thank them for their service, one local group is doing what it can to help veterans struggling with suicide.
According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, veterans are more than 20 percent at a greater risk to commit suicide. ‘Forgotten Not Gone’ is using an unconventional way to help former military men and women work to ease the pain they might be dealing with when they retire from the service.
“We just accomplished a 2,222-mile journey of riding our recovery trikes in Las Vegas,” said Peter Guidry, Forgotten Not Gone.
Guidry completed the ride to raise awareness about veteran suicide. For Guidry, riding in the Las Vegas Veterans Day Parade means a lot.
According to the VA, there are about 20 veterans who commit suicide every day. The stat is down from 22 just a couple years ago.
Guidry says he once contemplated suicide, so he doesn’t want anyone else to think about taking their own life.
“Man, my story is a little embarrassing, but four years ago I wanted to end it all,” said Guidry. “I was in the hospital for 11 days.”
But thanks to help from his doctors and his wife, Guidry says life now feels good.
“We just need a hand up, and that’s what these trikes do,” said Guidry. “They get these veterans out of the house and get them out of isolation and help them avoid depression.”
Guidry’s wife says the therapy tricycle has made a world of a difference.
“Within two months he was a different person,” according to his wife, Kelley Guidry/ “He was back to the person I married. His anxiety level went down, and the depression decreased.”
The couple started the Forgotten Not Gone three years ago. The only had two bikes then.
“You know we sat down and thought every veteran should have access to this,” Kelley Guidry said.
Now the group has grown to have 28 bikes, along with their own facility. Vets like Charles McGee, who served in world war two, says it’s an incredible program.
“It’s so important to recognize that there are those that need help,” McGee said.
McGee says he leaves the pedaling to the younger generation, but he says the comradery is what helps the vets the most.
In the meantime, Guidry is working to get the word out that life can change for the better.
“Life just feels good,” Guidry said. “I’m glad I was able to get the help I needed and correct those behaviors that needed to be corrected.”
About 65 percent of all veterans who died from suicide were 50 years or older, according to the latest statistics. The group encourages veterans to stay active.