VERO BEACH, Fla. — According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veterans and active duty military die from suicide every day. A Gold Star mom in Indian River County is trying to change that narrative.
Michelle Dale knows the pain of losing a son.
“I was shocked my son was killed in war. I was shocked. I’m still shocked he’s gone," Dale said Monday as she looked at a memorial in his honor at the Veterans Memorial Island Sanctuary in Vero Beach.
Dale Kridlo was 33 when he was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. He left behind twin daughters.
Michelle Dale's mission now as president of the Indian River County chapter of American Gold Star Mothers, is to help other military families and those veterans who come home alive but shaken.
“They got to hug them. They got to talk with them. Then they see them struggle to try and get the help they need and then die by suicide," said Dale.
Dale is now starting a brand new fundraiser designed to bring more mental health services to veterans returning home.”
Saturday, a “walk-a-thon” for military suicide awareness is happening in Vero Beach.
Dale says they’re working with a number of groups including the Mental Health Association of Indian River County and Dogs 4 Life, a group that trains service dogs for vets.
“Try to figure out what we can do as moms, what we can do as a community to help our veterans… where they have somewhere to go and talk with another veteran," said Dale.
Dale says her job is not easy but she does it to honor her son, who when asked about going back to Afghanistan, replied this way.
“No I’m not afraid to die, I’m afraid I’ll be forgotten.. so I will never let him be forgotten," said Dale.
We have more information about the walk here: www.ircgoldstarmoms.org.