Murrieta is home to many veterans as well as active-duty servicemen and women.
To tackle the issue in Southern California, on Sept. 26 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. there will be a panel discussion on the suicide epidemic hosted by Orange County Young Executives in connection with UCLA Operation Mend, Operation Gratitude and Save a Warrior.
The event titled Bridging the Gap: Waging War on the Veteran Suicide Epidemic takes place in Costa Mesa at the Center Club located at 650 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626..
"We are hoping to provide a platform for various organizations to come together to work towards a solution to the veteran suicide epidemic. Considering a recent report released by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the suicide rate amongst service members is very concerning. There's an immediate need to take a look at the solution," said Aaron Schilleci, OCYE's co-founder, California Army National Guard and Executive Officer of 1st Assault Helicopter Battalion, 140th Aviation Regiment, flying UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter.
Bridging the Gap panelists include State Senator of the 34th District Lou Correa, Operation Gratitude Founder Carolyn Blaschek, Save a Warrior Foundation Jake Clark, Operation Mend Program Manager Melanie Gideon, and Operation Mend-FOCUS Family Resilience Program Director Joe Sornborger.
Mike Mills, a retired and decorated Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran and former patient of UCLA Operation Mend will also share details about his recovery from an IED blast during his last and final deployment in Iraq. Mills' story of resilience includes his path to creating For a Veteran, By a Veteran, his organization whose mission is to help veterans facing challenges resulting from medical discharge or retirement.
During the Sept. 26 event, a continental breakfast will be served. Attendees are encouraged to bring a letter of appreciation in an unsealed envelope without postage, written to a service member deployed in Afghanistan. Attendees are also invited to bring perishable good donations for care packages, including chewing gum, protein bars, beef jerky, drink mix packages, playing cards, and personal hygiene products.
Register for the event at http://ocye.org/bridging-the-gap/. Tickets are $40/person and 100 percent of proceeds will be donated to UCLA Operation Mend, Save a Warrior and Operation Gratitude.
The event is being sponsored by Bank of America, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, Northwestern Mutual, The Hexberg Family Foundation, The Katz Family, and Alexandria.
During the event, Debra Postil, president of Women Wonder Writers, will be in attendance and delivering letters of appreciation written by Women Wonder Writer students to service members deployed in Afghanistan. The students writing the letters of appreciation are at-risk youth from Moreno Valley’s Youth Accountability Team, a youth offender diversion program, and Operation SafeHouse, a Riverside transitional living home for at-risk and homeless adolescents.