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Unacceptable losses

Film, Spartan Pledge highlight veteran suicides

Made from steel scrapes taken from the World Trade Center after 9/11, the Spartan Sword serves as a rallying point for veterans to refuse to lose their lives by suicide. Courtesy photo

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A veteran's suicide is a loss.

To bring attention to an epidemic that daily claims the lives of approximately 20 of their brothers and sisters, combat veterans Daniel Egbert and Matt King set out in 2014 on a 22-day, 6,500-mile motorcycle journey.

During the journey from California to New York, they met with researchers, healthcare providers and other veterans.

They sought to raise awareness and let others know they are not alone.

A film, Project 22, chronicles what the two veterans undertook as they talked with veterans who had contemplated or attempted suicide.

The trip and the film were made to signal a refusal to lose their lives through suicide.

This coming Saturday afternoon between 2 and 6 p.m., Rally Point 6 (RP6) and Pierce College will host a free screening of the film in an event entitled "Refuse to Lose."

RP6 is a nonprofit organization in Lakewood.  It specializes in connecting servicemembers, veterans and their families to a number of resources to help them develop a plan of action to take care of their transition from military service.

Pierce College, a community college with campuses in Lakewood, Puyallup and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, is one of the top-ranked educational institutions for its work with veterans and servicemembers.

After the film, Boone Cutler, host of the radio talk show, The Tipping Point, will facilitate a ceremony where veterans can take the Spartan Pledge.

It is a pledge taken on a sword created from steel scrapes collected from the World Trade Center after 9/11.

"It's remarkable, the pieces of steel that we have," commented Navy veteran Danny Prince in a NPR commentary.

"You don't want to waste anything."

Prince and Steve Danyluk, a former marine, set about turning the steel into a symbol with the power to save the lives of veterans.

"The pure, almost religious nature of the steel from the World Trade Center ... it's being transformed into something about healing," added Danyluk.

The Spartan Sword will be escorted from RP6 to the Puyallup campus by a number of veteran-associated motorcycle clubs.

Both Danyluk and Prince hope the sword will inspire veterans to take the "Spartan Pledge," a promise made between veterans to not commit suicide.

The pledge is as follows:  I will not take my own life by my own hand until I talk to my battle buddy first.  My mission is to find a mission to help my warfighter family.

It is a refusal to lose.

"The film screening together with the pledge ceremony represent hope," wrote RP6's Sherrill Isenhower, special events and volunteer coordinator, in an email.

"We are looking forward to bringing the community together in support of our veterans and one another."

"Refuse to Lose" will be held in the Arts and Allied Health Building on the Pierce College Puyallup Campus at 1601 39th Ave. SE in Puyallup.

To register for the event, visit rp6_refuse_to_lose.eventbrite.com.

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