Oneida Nation photo
Oneida Nation Councilwoman Marie (Summers) Cornelius provides an opening address for the Combating Veteran Suicide conference held August 11 at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center. Cornelius shared a personal experience with a veteran suicide, and she now advocates for veteran mental health services.
Government Administrative Offices
The Oneida Nation has a strong history of supporting their warriors, and the tribe’s Veterans Services Office teamed up with the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) to host a Combating Veteran Suicide conference August 11 at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center. With one of the Oneida Nation’s top priorities and Broad Goals being the Health and Safety of its citizens, including its warriors, tribal Councilwoman Marie (Summers) Cornelius attended and shared her personal experience with a veteran suicide.
“We’re here to bring awareness for combating veteran suicide,” Cornelius said. “In 2018, after my son completed his term in the service, his former Marine Corps roommate committed suicide. Through this experience, I gained an understanding about the effects of how suicide can impact all individuals connected to those that suffer mentally, emotionally, and physically.
“Raising awareness to prevent and address mental health is vital and the more we talk about suicide, the better it is to connect and begin the healing process,” Cornelius said. “I want to thank you all for giving this Combating Suicide forum life. The Oneida Nation realizes the work you put into this endeavor may well one day save a veteran’s life.”
The conference gave local veterans and agencies the opportunity to speak and share their stories of how mental health concerns and veteran suicides has impacted their lives. According to the 2021 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Report there were a total of 6,261 veteran suicides in 2019, or an average of 17.2 per day. The same study shows Native American veterans have a 60% higher rate of mental health issues and suicide than the general public.
Oneida Nation Veterans Services Office Director Kerry Metoxen, who is working in conjunction with a State of Wisconsin initiative to combat veteran suicide, can be reached at (920) 869-1133. If you are a veteran, or you are aware of a veteran, who is in need of mental health or substance abuse assistance please do not hesitate to call the Veterans Crisis Line at 988, then press 1. If the veteran resides in Brown County, they may also call the Veterans Outreach and Recovery Program (VORP) Region 6 office at (920) 246-7277. The VORP Region 7 office for Outagamie County can be reached at (715) 409-3767. For Veterans Affairs Mental Health services, please contact 1-(888) 598-7793.