Legislation honors veterans who died by suicide

By J.M. Simpson on April 6, 2022

House Bill 1181 honors veterans in a way that is a first for Washington state. Passed unanimously by both the House and Senate earlier in March, Governor Jay Inslee is expected to sign it.

The legislation not only calls for a new memorial - The Washington State Global War on Terror Memorial - to be constructed on the state Capitol campus to honor those who died in Afghanistan and Iraq, it also states that a portion of the memorial will recognize soldiers who died by suicide after returning home.

A summary of the bill follows:

"The bill represents progress," stated Patrick Seifert, a Marine veteran and founder of Twenty22Many. "It is definitely the first of its kind in the State of Washington and quite possibly the United States, and it recognizes something that is often overlooked, veteran suicides.

Twenty22Many is the state's first grassroots, all volunteer, veteran suicide, post traumatic distress order and medical cannabis awareness organization. According to Seifert, the organization has helped hundreds of veterans.

"For the first time in American history, when a man or a woman joins the military, they're more likely to die from suicide than in combat," continued Seifert.

Advocating for the use of medical marijuana to help veterans suffering from PTSD, in 2012 Seifert and some fellow veterans hand delivered to then Senator (now Sec. of State) Steve Hobbs a request for legislation to add PTSD to the state's list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis use.

Today, veterans in Washington state cannot lose their military medical benefits because they use cannabis.

Seifert views House Bill 1181 as another step forward for the veterans he and others help.

"There is a part of this memorial that means there will be more than a few programs being implemented to help fight veteran suicide."

For those seeking immediate help, dial 988, America's Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline.

For more information on Twenty22Many, visit https://twenty22many-olympia.org.