Standing up for comrades
Some 300 veterans ‘ walk post’ on a Pasadena bridge to raise awareness of military suicides.
Donning a military helmet and f lak jacket, William Valenzuela walked back and forth for two hours along the Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena.
The El Monte resident, who served in the Marine Corps from 1977 to 1983, was among more than 300 veterans slated to “walk post” along the bridge this week to raise awareness about the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day nationwide.
For one to four hours at a time during the round- theclock event, which wraps up Saturday, veterans have been walking across what’s commonly referred to as “Suicide Bridge,” wearing tags that read, “Not on my watch.”
A growing collection of those tags sits on a battlefield cross constructed near the south end of the bridge, which organizers have lined with American f lags.
“Our young men and women shouldn’t be coming back not getting the help they need,” said Valenzuela, 56.
His nephew, he said, comitted suicide at 23 years old after a tour in Afghanistan.
Since 1919, the Colorado Street Bridge has seen more than 150 suicide deaths, according to a city report.
The idea for the six- day watch — hosted by Wellness Works, a Glendale- based nonprofit that provides support services for veterans — emerged several months ago after one former Marine “slipped through the cracks of a system that was really supposed to help him,” said Kathy Lynch, the organization’s clinical director.
The veteran, who was suicidal, ran away after his aunt took him to get treated and has not been heard from since, Lynch said.
“We just pray every day, just like all those veterans out there that are in despair, that somehow there’s somebody to give him help,” Lynch said.
VETERANS provided a weeklong watch on the Colorado Street Bridge, a. k. a. Suicide Bridge, to raise awareness of veteran suicide.
VETERAN William Valenzuela says military veterans are not getting the help they need when they return. Nationally, 22 commit suicide every day.