Representatives from five Northeast Florida counties gathered in the Atrium of City Hall on Monday, Sept. 30, to announce the launch of a new initiative to end veterans suicide. This effort is the first of its kind in the country, uniting veterans and allies to activate local assets, stand watch, and build a life-saving network for veterans in need.
Veteran suicide in a growing crisis in America, with at least 20 veterans taking their lives every day. To date, solutions for this epidemic have failed to turn the tide, particularly at the federal level.
The Fire Watch is a coordinated effort between the City of Jacksonville (Duval County) and the counties of Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns to end veteran suicide in our region. Jacksonville will serve as the home for The Fire Watch and will coordinate with surrounding counties via inter-local agreements. The Fire Watch will coordinate and organize existing resources to combat the veteran suicide epidemic in partnership with local, state and federal agencies, private donors, media outlets, and nonprofits. Additionally, The Fire Watch will create a network of 10,000 local veterans and allies to strengthen one-on-one support and interpersonal connections.
Legislation is currently making its way through the county commissions and the Jacksonville City Council. The Fire Watch expects to begin programming in early 2020.