GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Ellen Brabo has captured images around the world. Now, they’re on display to help others survive.
“It breaks my heart when you think about the fact that since 2000, 125,000 veterans have committed suicide. That doesn’t include active duty service members, and a transitioning service member is five times more likely to commit suicide,” she said.
“When you’re in the service, you have this distinct purpose. And we know what our community is we know what our role is,” Brabo continued, “re-establishing what that purpose is can take some time. And we need resources like Stop Soldier Suicide to be able to help our servicemen and women through that transition.”
Brabo lived through this type of transition.
“When I transitioned out, I transitioned out during a pandemic from overseas, and I moved back to the United States,” she explained. “Very quickly found myself isolated and alone without purpose.
“I remember going home to see my parents at Christmas that year — so about six months after I had transitioned. And I just, I knew I couldn’t go back,” Brabo continued. “I am very fortunate in that both of my parents are veterans, and so they had both transitions, but not everybody has that.”
That’s why she opened up her art installment — to help the people who don’t have support.
All of the proceeds are helping Stop Soldier Suicide, which provides mental health resources and connections to other resources.
Even though Brabo is no longer telling the soldier’s story on the battlefield, she’s still fighting for those who have no fight left in them.
“We need to meet them on the side of the mountain before they’re on the cliff,” she said. “The reality is, I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t had parents that could have been like, ‘No, I’m going to help you.’ Because we don’t have a guarantee that every transitioning service member has a family to go home to that they have a home to go to.
“We’ve got to start meeting them on the mountain.”
If you’re a veteran or service member in crisis, call Stop Soldier Suicide at 844-907-1342.