“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” – Mother Teresa.

Our shout out this week to the efforts of Washington State resident Jimmy Novak. This U.S. Army veteran walked through Idaho County recently on a personal mission to raise awareness regarding mental health issues for those who served in the military and encouraging them to seek help.

Novak underwent his own trauma during a 2004 deployment, and it took years before he was at a place where he realized he needed help with the anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts he had labored under and, for a short time, bottled up.

“It’s ok to seek help,” he said, there is no shame in having these problems that are more common than people realize. And there are those out there “who have similar experiences and want to help.”

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, veteran suicide rates are higher than the rest of the population, particularly among women. The VA states a total 20.6 suicides every day; of these, 16.8 were veterans and 3.8 were active-duty servicemembers, guardsmen and reservists. Its 2018 report put those totals at 6,132 veterans and 1,387 service members who died by suicide in one year.

Novak’s mission is to share his personal story and to hear the stories of those who have lived it or are undergoing their own struggles, whether with themselves or with a friend or family member. It’s awareness carried out town by town, visiting at veterans’ centers and legion halls along the way.

This veteran’s walk is a small stone skipped across the great width and breadth of a sea of problems, but the impact of those ripples will be mighty to the individuals they come across.

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