BOSSIER PARISH, La. (KSLA) - Twenty to twenty-two — that’s the estimated number of veterans committing suicide, on average, daily.
“Obviously if you’re losing 22 a day, that is too much,” says Marine reservist, Colonel Shayne McGinty.
“If you go on a mission — and lost 22 people, that’s traumatic, a huge loss of life," he said. “At the same time, it’s going on every day back here in the United States.”
McGinty’s set to retire from the military after 25 years, but not without accomplishing one more major mission, raising money for 22Kill out of Dallas, a therapy-based non-profit designed to help veterans.
I caught up with McGinty at around 4:30 a.m. inside his woodworking shop in north Bossier Parish. For the last few years, with help from his Air Force friend Kelly Watkins, they’ve been manufacturing wood-art for local businesses, sports fanatics, and supporters of first responders. A portion of the sales is donated to 22Kill.
McGinty, who was on the ground in Iraq during the early years after 9/11, was involved in intense fighting in Fallujah and Ramadi.
“We never spent time on the base," McGinty describes. "We were always outside the wire, always on a mission.”
“Everybody trying to shoot you, all the time,” continues the highly decorated Colonel. “It was a tough fight.”
Lives were lost and lives were taken during his time there. And oftentimes, some minds just aren’t wired to handle this sort of violence and carnage.
“Your mind runs at 200 miles per hour in combat," he said. "Then you come home and it’s at 55 miles per hour.”
“And that gap between the two environments contributes to a lot of problems people have with PTSD.”
He says for many veterans, idle time becomes the new enemy. Now, his time is filled with what he calls his ‘sawdust therapy’.
“We’re just on another mission now. We’re not in Fallujah kicking doors down. We’re just on another mission now to protect the people.”
You can find some of their woodwork for sale inside Heroes Tavern on Airline Drive near Benton and inside Tubbs Hardware in Bossier City.
The public is invited to attend a special veterans event slated for Saturday, Nov. 7 in Bossier City’s East Bank District. 22Kill’s CEO Jacob Schick will speak at the event.
Organized by the VFW, there is a fun run scheduled for that morning from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and an all-day festival, including live music, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
A job fair will also be set up to help veterans.