Continuing a resolution of 22 push-ups
Wed, 12/27/2017 - 1:24pm admin
—Chris Chilson raises awareness for veteran suicide every day of the year
Marcie Klomp News Editor email@example.com
Lime Springs - It started out as a 22-push-ups a day for 22 days challenge to raise awareness that 22 American veterans commit suicide every day.
But it meant more to Chris Chilson than that.
“One day a friend at the hospital nominated me. I did the push-ups and nominated a person each day after that. On day 23 I thought to myself, ‘It certainly isn’t going to hurt me to do push-ups.’” So he kept doing them, and there is no sign of stopping.
On Dec. 27, he attained Day 347 of 22 push-ups a day for infinite days.
Every day Chilson gets as many of his pets as possible to participate. He and wife Sandy have one dog, Dexter, and four cats, Charles, Harmony, Pickles and Baxter. He then records himself doing the push-ups and posts it on Facebook—every day.
He had a 2-3 week window when he was incapacitated. “My neck locked up really bad, and I couldn’t do the push-ups. Then a handful of people stepped up on Facebook and did push-ups for me, so there wasn’t a break in the continuity. Up until that point, I hadn’t realized how many people this was reaching.”
Chilson retired from the Navy after 20 years of service. He found out after the fact that one of his fellow sailors had committed suicide and felt compelled to spread the message about veteran suicide for him and others.
In November, Chilson was asked to speak at the annual banquet of the Vet2Vet organization at West Union. “I asked the coordinator what I should speak about and was told to speak about something that is close to my heart, so I talked about 22 veterans a day.”
Since starting his crusade, Chilson still receives between 15-50 “likes” each day. Some leave comments with a simple “Thank you.” Although he did mention one that touched him. “It was from someone I don't know, who said they had a family member succumb to suicide, and they thanked me.”
Is there an answer to veteran suicide? Chilson reflected, “The obvious thing is the need for mental health care. Less obvious is making connections with people, getting together for fellowship or finding that one person to connect with.”
The retired Navyman noted, “The traditional VFW and American Legion are having trouble getting the younger generation involved. They may see them as a relic of the past. Maybe we have to change with the times. It’s something that is talked about a lot at our Legion and VFW meetings.”
Finding support from other veterans was one of the reasons the two organizations formed in the first place.
The older generation also dealt with veteran suicide, but not on today’s scale. Chilson suggested those in World War II went through hard times during the Depression, which made them tougher. Or perhaps the stigma of religious beliefs stopped them. “Or maybe we didn’t hear about it as much.”
He also admitted society has changed. The younger generation has had an easier life.
Whatever the reason for the increase in the number of veteran suicides, Chilson will continue doing 22 push-ups . . . one day at a time, whether he’s on vacation in Vegas, Minneapolis, Key West or Sioux City or in his Lime Springs living room.
What’s that saying? If it helps just one person, then it’s worth it.