Coffee therapy as a life saver
Veteran Tom Harrell made a powerful plug for “coffee therapy” during Monday’s Memorial Day observance at the National Cemetery.
A frequent visitor to Richard’s Coffee Shop where veterans gather in Mooresville, Harrell has been instrumental in launching a similar gathering place in Salisbury — the Frontier Coffee Shoppe at Thelma’s restaurant in West End Plaza, the former Salisbury Mall. Owner Thelma Lucky is herself a veteran and was happy to have the veterans congregate in her restaurant.
Harrell doesn’t tiptoe around the subject — preventing suicide is one of the Frontier’s top missions. The Veterans Administration says 22 veterans kill themselves every day. Maybe if more of them had a friendly coffee shop where they could talk to other veterans, the numbers would be lower.
A 2012 report by the VA said the percentage of veterans who die by suicide had decreased slightly since 1999, while the estimated total number of veterans who died by suicide had increased. That means we have a lot of men and women who have served the country —more than 21 million, including 2.25 million from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone.
The VA has responded to the rising number of suicides with a toll-free Veterans Crisis Line, suicide prevention coordinators at VA medical centers and improvements in case management and reporting, according to the VA website. In addition to the Veterans Crisis Line via phone, there are also online chat and text-messaging services that offer free, confidential support, 24/7, to veterans, their families and friends. To reach the Crisis Line, call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. Chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat or text to 838255 to receive support.
Technology may have expanded the ways to communicate and offer support, but the basic issue has not. As Harrell said, “Combat will change you.” Those who have been deployed repeatedly often feel they have lost their identity, he said. In the coffee shop, they might find themselves again.
The Frontier Coffee Shoppe offers veterans free coffee and doughnuts each Tuesday from 9 to 11 a.m.