A local film director made a stand to honor those who lose their lives every day.
To honor the average 22 veterans a day who take their lives due to PTSD, Damian Costello, along with Tristin Ray and Clayton Potter, saluted the American flag hand over heart in silence (as stated in the Section 301(b)(1) of title 36, United States Code) for 22 minutes, on the hour, for 22 hours from noon Jan. 1 till 10 a.m. Jan. 2 in the parking lot of the Veterans Memorial Museum.
“We were talking about it and I was like, ‘You know what, I’m going to salute a flag for 24 hours’,” said Costello. “Then I went ‘well no, let’s do it for 22 hours. One hour for each person that we lose everyday’.”
The event received support by many who wanted to take a stand.
“We had a lot of support,” said Costello. “People, all through the night, bringing us coffee and just being very supportive. It gave us a lot of time to really think about the cause. We’re here for 22 hours, and in my mind I’m going ‘how many people did we not get to in this time that we were actually here. Twenty-two a day. In these 22 hours, did we lose 15 people? Did we lose five? Did we lose 30?’ You really think about that stuff, and it’s really chilling because you don’t know, and it’s very unfortunate.”
The film to be directed and written by Costello, Pray They Stand Down, will follow veteran Marine Cpl. Chad Sikeston as he returns home after receiving a Purple Heart and medal of valor for his heroism, only to fight for his life once more in his own home town. This film will allow you to follow this hero, feel his struggle with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), see him search for answers and pray that they, the thoughts, stand down.
“I’m a Gold Star Family as well,” said Costello. “I lost my brother in 2010, in Afghanistan. So I kind of had this thing, there’s people that die there and don’t make it back or there’s people that do make it back and unfortunately they take their lives because they just can’t get through this thought process and they don’t understand that there’s people that can help them or they don’t know how they can help them.”
According to Costello, this film will bring awareness to the 22 a day, as well as ECAD (Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities), Service Dogs of America and assist with the PAWS Act through Carolyn Sires.
To donate funds for the production, visitfacebook.com/donate/579865822770137.
Through the years, there has been controversy in how the number of veteran suicides should be counted when it comes to official numbers and averages. This is in part because of the lack of data on the problem as a whole. However, Veterans Affairs actively works to create National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Reports to update this data to learn how to better treat those in need of assistance.