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Gold Star Moms walk for veteran suicide prevention

Posted at 5:59 AM, Sep 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-27 08:12:14-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — A group of mothers and family members who know pain and grief all too well walked for a mission they hope will spread.

The Pikes Peak Gold Star Mothers Chapter walked Saturday to spread awareness on suicide among veterans. But first, the group read the names of fallen soldiers they knew and loved, and then they walked.

"I don't think any of us can understand where they are or what they feel at that moment when they decide that suicide is the only option," Nancy Pfander, a member of the organization, said. "It just makes me so sad that they feel like they can't reach out to somebody," she said. Pfander's son died in Iraq in 2014. She says she got to know the other Marines he served with and one of them died by suicide.

During the event, families talked about the loved ones who are no longer here and even hugged each other through the pain. Organizers we spoke to say the armed forces have gotten better about addressing mental illness, but there's still work to be done.

"There's a lot of hurt and sometimes I think--especially for our military--there's that 'I have to be strong for everyone else' and they don't take care of themselves," Chanta Vasquez, President of the Pikes Peak American Gold Star Mother's Chapter, said. Vasquez's son died by suicide in 2019. He was an Army Specialist.

Saturday's walk was congruent with a national walk among Gold Star Mothers that happened in Washington, D.C. The walk also brought in funds for the "working dogs for vets" non-profit.