MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Few people can understand a veteran like another veteran.
When Samuel Rock started the Battle Buddy Response Team in Martinsburg back in April of 2019, he determined his team would go wherever they could to help veterans in crisis.
“As soon as we arrive, regardless if we’re traveling all of the way down to Florida or all of the way over to California or just right down the street, there’s a sense of hope we bring with us,” Rock said recently on ‘Panhandle Live’ on MetroNews affiliate WEPM in Martinsburg. “We bring experience. We bring connections. We bring peer support.”
Battle Buddy is a non-profit organization that does suicide prevention for veterans and their families. Rock, an Army combat veteran, said his group goes to those who are having problems which, he said, makes the group unique from other organizations.
“Whenever we get a Concerned Party Form in on our website we go ahead and take that form and we go to that address, a homeless shelter, or the side of a street and check on that veteran or that family member that a concerned party has filled out a form for,” Rock said.
Rock said their volunteers have provided care and services to more than 468 veterans all over the United States. He said they use a personal approach.
Rock said when a combat veteran speaks to another combat veteran, the conversation goes a lot smoother than if a civilian was trying to engage.
Statistics show the annual number of suicides involving veterans in the U.S. has exceeded 6,000 since 2008. There are about 22 veterans a day who take their own lives. June is PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) month.
Berkeley County Sheriff Nathan Harmon said the locally-based Battle Buddy Response Team is making a difference for area veterans in crisis.
“I actually utilized them on a call with a veteran in the Hedgesville area and I have to say with the hats that we wear, Battle Buddy response group are the more so professionals at helping than your standard law enforcement officer,” Harmon, himself a veteran, said.
Rock said the team’s mission is serving veterans and their families. Their vision is to stop and prevent all veteran suicide.
For more information, go to Battle Buddy Response Team.