By Jill Power | The Duquesne Duke
A Duquesne law student is among the producers of an upcoming documentary about veteran suicide.
Project 22, produced by non-profit organization Medicinal Missions, documents a cross-country campaign to educate citizens of the alarming suicide rate among veterans. According to the organization, approximately 22 veterans take their own lives every day.
Collins, a Marine Infantry veteran, met Daniel Egbert, the co-founder and executive director of Medicinal Missions, while on tour in Afghanistan. He convinced Egbert to reroute his journey to include Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh has the fourth largest veterans population in the United States. Collins said “there is so much here,” referring to the multiple veterans organizations in and around Pittsburgh
The route began in Los Angeles and ends at Ground Zero in New York City. The veterans featured in the film were contacted by Medicinal Missions prior to filming.
With the help of social media campaigns, the journey was being tracked by people all over the nation, according to Collins.
Collins, the associate producer of Project 22 and associate director of Medicinal Missions, said the experience was meaningful and rewarding.
“It’s a cause that I care very much about, myself being a veteran and having friends who have struggled with these issues,” Collins said. “It’s something that consumes you. We’re talking about an extraordinary loss of life. It’s something that can be prevented, it’s not something that we have no control over.”
Roger Brooke, director of military psychological services at Duquesne, was approached by the organization to be interviewed about the “psychological wounds” veterans return home from war with.
Brooke said the return home from war can be as psychologically taxing as being in the war zone.
“They found it especially helpful to learn that what they had understood as post-traumatic stress disorder as a “mental illness” is more truly a human universal [problem] that has been described and named in all warrior cultures,” Brooke said.
The documentary is scheduled to release in summer 2014.