Veteran Suicide Awareness Group Holds Fundraiser and Concert at Joey Armadillo’s
Posted 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 11, 2022
NILES CHARTER TOWNSHIP – A local organization is doing its part to make a difference in the lives of veterans and first responders across Michiana.
Stop 22 Southwest Michigan is hosting a 9/11 Remembrance Day fundraising event today at Joey Armadillo’s in support of their new branch.
Founded in South Bend by medically retired Air Force veteran Travis Pitts and his wife Angella after a veteran committed suicide in the Mishawaka, Indiana VA parking lot in 2018, Stop 22 offers a variety of Support Options for Combating Veteran Suicides. According to a 2013 study by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 22 military veterans commit suicide every day.
A raffle tent with items from local businesses, including Sunset Coast Provisions, 980 E. State St., Cand Behind Bars Motorsports, 3125 S. 11th St, Niles, is on site at Joey Armadillo’s. An after party will take place around 6 p.m. with the group PS Dump Your Boyfriend who will perform at 7 p.m. Coverage costs $11.
A poker race and motorcycle ride were originally part of the day’s events, but were canceled due to bad weather.
Proceeds from the event will go towards the purchase of a community center for veterans in Niles. According to Angela, the legalization of cannabis played an important role in the pursuit of a community center in Niles.
“That’s one of the reasons the VA actually told (my husband) to move here,” she said. “He was having adverse reactions to the drugs they were giving him; you’re given so many different ones., so the VA was like, no, you have to get around and be able to access your meds. So that’s what I want to let other veterans know as well. Now that we have a legal state like this, you have a choice of alternative medicine.
“We want the community center to be there for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re just a regular member of the community, feeling suicidal, need someone to talk to you, or just need to sort things out like bills or housing, or something like that. We want to be there for people when they need help.
In addition to the community center, Stop 22 is raising funds for a retirement cabin at Rainbow Farms in Vandalia.
“We’ve been working all summer (at Rainbow Farms) to find a place for a cabin to be called ‘Freedom Cabin,'” she said. “It will be a place where veterans can just go and stay in the cabin for free. It will contain non-perishable food and they can come and spend a few days where there will be peace and quiet.
On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the extremist Islamist group al-Qaeda hijacked four planes and carried out suicide bombings against targets in the United States. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the terrorist attacks, which sparked major US counter-terrorism initiatives.
Hosting the event on 9/11 was significant for the Pitts; Travis was inspired to join the military because of the tragedy.
“It means a lot to me to be here doing something to give back because a lot of these veterans are coming out after 20 years of experience right now,” Angela said. “It’s been 21 years. It means a lot to just be here and let people know we are here.
Angela hopes people will come out and support a good cause.
“We’re not trying to make money from it, we’re not trying to get fame or fortune,” she said. We just want people to know you’re here. If you see this, reach out, people care. I went to every business around here asking for help and no one said no to me, everyone gave what they could because they wanted to help. It was great to see that and veterans see it too. Even if you don’t have family at home, if things are tough for you, people care. Contact us and someone will help you.