Widow advocates to end veteran suicide


     RAY CITY – An ABAC student and widow of an Army veteran who committed suicide is using her family’s tragedy to bring awareness to the threat veterans face after leaving the military.

     Two years ago, Alisa Busbin’s late husband, Jonathon Busbin, took his life at 23 years old. His daughter Abeline just had her first birthday and he and his wife had just started a business together. Now, Jonathon and Alisa Busbin’s child is three and full of bright personality. Alisa notices all the similarities between her late husband and daughter.

    She chuckled while looking back at a photobook with two pictures side by side of Abeline and Jonathon striking the same face and pose. According to Alisa, the suffering is not gone after a person commits suicide. Instead, that suffering is passed on to the person’s loved ones. Jonathon Busbin knew at an early age he would be in the military.

    It was no surprise to his wife or family when he joined the Army after high school for a three-year airborne infantry contract from 2012-2015. The Berrien County native’s first time on an airplane was spent jumping out of it to earn his wings from the U.S. Army’s Airborne School at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. Alcohol abuse and chronic depression plagued the young veteran when he returned from Afghanistan, after being wounded from an improvised explosive device.

     Jonathon, like many other veterans, wasn’t done fighting when he came home to his family. The nightmares and flashbacks impacted his life tremendously according to Alisa. Jonathan’s first attempt at suicide was unsuccessful. Alisa remembers her late husband routinely fell back into depression despite things at home being good.

     The potential early signs of Jonathan’s second suicide attempt before the incident weren’t clear for Alisa, but after everything happened, she recalled what could have been hints as to what was about to happen.

     Unfortunately for Alisa and many others impacted by veterans killing themselves, it’s common not to notice the small signs before someone commits suicide. That’s why Alisa took it upon herself to try and prevent another spouse, parent, sibling or friend from having to experience the emotional roller coaster that she has been on. The national statistic for veteran suicide is that 22 prior service-members fall victim to suicide every day.

    Alisa doesn’t think enough is being done to fight this ongoing epidemic. That’s why she started Jon’s Mission for 22, a charity fundraiser in honor of her late husband.

     “If you search on Facebook, ‘Veteran Suicide Support Group’ you won’t find anything,” said Alisa. “There just aren’t that many people talking about this.” According to Alisa, where Facebook lacks in support groups for veterans, there are a plethora of widow/widower groups mourning the loss of loved ones.

    In her experience, the groups for mourning loved ones are filled with drama because of the obvious emotional turmoil these families are suffering from at home. She found several larger non-profit organizations that actively try to prevent veterans from committing suicide after coming home from the military. The organizations include Project Zero, Mission 22 and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS).

    Project Zero finds veterans that want to help other veterans with life needs after their service. They build group homes to house homeless veterans and provide support groups made entirely of veterans.

     Mission 22 combats the national statistic for veteran suicide. They fight the epidemic by providing veterans treatment programs, national awareness and providing memorials for soldiers who have died by suicide. Mission 22 even offers a service animal program. TAPS focus their mission on families like Alisa’s; they provide resources and information about what to do in tragic situations. They provide care for families after their loved ones in the military lose the battle after returning home from the wars overseas.

     This is the second year Alisa is holding Jon’s Mission 22 Annual Charity Event. On Oct. 12, at Possum Creek Off-Road Park, 2694 Possum Creek Road Ray City. All money raised at Jon’s Mission 22 Annual Charity event will go directly to these non-profit organizations. A presentation of colors will kick off the charity event and a raffle drawing will take place to help raise money for the cause.

     The competition entry fee will be $10, and the money will go toward helping fight veteran suicide. Participants in the event are encouraged to bring cars, all-terrain vehicles and four-wheelers for the contest. Entries for best in show, muddiest and far-outest will be recognized.

     T-shirt purchases will be available with the Jon’s Mission 22 logo for $25. The t-shirts can be purchased on the day of the event or online at jonsmissionfor22.com and the site has a donation button for the cause.

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