Every day more than 20 Veterans commit suicide. Every day we are reminded about how we are failing our Veterans. My brother, SFC William Rommel (Will) was very close to suffering the same fate as too many of his fellow brothers and sisters. He is a multi-attempted suicide survivor.
At first when he told me about the suicide attempts, I was not sure how to process the feelings that were arising. I think mostly because on some level I felt like I could have done more or should have tried to reach out more regularly. And then the next set of emotions that came over me was intense gratitude. Gratitude that he was standing right in front of me and was able to tell me he was struggling and that I was able to give him a hug and tell him I love him and thank him for trusting in me to tell me about his suicide attempts.
My brother is six years older than me and he has ALWAYS been the older protective type. His radar to seek out injustice and to right a wrong is one of his greatest strengths as well as one of his greatest weaknesses. Prior to joining the Army, he was a First Responder with the local fire department and worked as a recovery tow truck driver.
Will has served in the Army for 18 years. In those 18 years, he has seen and done things that have eroded his mind and body. When a Veteran completes their process of transitioning out, there is a HUGE disconnect between them and the civilian society. These men and women have given years and/or decades of their lives by following orders in the name of defending our freedoms, to be given days and/or weeks of “military debriefing”, and within hours of receiving their paperwork are expected to integrate seamlessly back into society.
Whether my brother was serving here in the United States or overseas, life at home was moving on. The missed holidays, missed special occasions and other missed milestones were adding up. When my brother was home in physical form, his mind was somewhere thousands of miles away. The distance I felt between my brother and I dissipated after he got his Service Dog, Rio.
Simply put, Rio saved my brother’s life and in return my brother saved Rio’s life. Back in 2018, Will discovered this amazing organization called K9s for Warriors (K9s). And if you follow my brother’s personal Facebook page and/or our SFC William Rommel (SFCWR) Facebook page, you know these two share a very special and unbreakable bond. K9s pull dogs from local animal shelters, train them and then presents them as Service Dogs to our Veterans. The average cost of training a Service Dog can exceed over $15,000. The cost to the Veteran $0!
We at SFCWR wanted to pay it forward and sponsor our first of many Service Dogs and we need your help to do it. Beginning on Sunday May 31, 2020, Will begins our first Circuit for a Cause. This is a road trip starting in New Jersey and will conclude in Arizona. It’s purpose is to bring awareness to the staggering fact that we are losing way too many Veterans to suicide.
If you can help us with our goal please consider donating here. If you know a Veteran who is struggling and are not sure how to help them please consider sharing this website with them. We look forward to sharing Will’s progress on our SFCWR Facebook Page.