Some people expect presents on their birthday, or at least a night on the town with friends. Army veteran and Cleveland businessman Jack Wieghat is asking for donations to a non-profit organization called Stop Soldier Suicide.
“I’ve lost three personal friends to suicide recently. Two of them were in 2017 and one in 2018. Two were close personal friends of mine who I served with in Iraq. They were with me on the missions I was on and their deaths hit close to home,” Wieghat said.
Initially Wieghat set a fundraising goal of $1,000 through a Facebook challenge. With two days left until his birthday on July 24, the goal is met, but donations are still being made.
Just a few years ago, Wieghat was known as EF Specialist Wieghat with the 404 Aviation Support Battalion. His job was maintaining the structural integrity of aircrafts that were flown into combat missions in Iraq. When he returned home, he had his own demons to fight but says he got through them with the support of his family.
“I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me. I raised my right hand on my own and swore to uphold my duty,” Wieghat said.
Not every soldier has a support system and even those who do often have trouble putting the memories of war behind them.
“They can teach us how to fight all day long, but we don’t always know what to do when we come home and get reunited with our families,” Wieghat said. “When you are out there, trying to survive, you do anything and everything to come home. But when you come home, the changes you had to make can make readjusting to life diff
icult. Some never adjust.”
He hopes that the donations to Stop Soldier Suicide will provide the means for other soldiers returning from war to receive help.
“Finding a place to turn to is a huge barrier. Anyone with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or TBIs (traumatic brain injuries), it’s hard for most people to understand them unless you’ve been through it yourself,” he said. “Even if the campaign saves just one soldier, it’s worth it to me.”
To make a donation, go online to https://www.facebook.com/donate/2094891074114543/693307277678170/