Car show supports intiative to prevent veteran suicides

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Photos by Cynthia Price

 

by Cynthia Price

 

There is some controversy over the number that reflects how many veterans a day die of suicide. Studies are not conclusive, but they point to the possibility that there is almost two times the risk of suicide in the veteran population as in the population as a whole.

The number of 22 suicides per day is often cited, but a recent very comprehensive study put the number at 20.


Either way, it is way, way too many.


And, for Natasha Heykoop, the founder of the new non-profit Lighthouse for Veterans, just one was far too many.


That is because her veteran brother, Jeremy Curtis Heykoop, died of suicide in November 2015. Born in 1984, Jeremy Heykoop went to Orchard View schools and graduated with a business degree from Ashford University, enlisting in 2005. He served two tours during Operation Iraqi Freedom; he is survived by a wife and two children.


So, last year, his grieving sister Natasha held an event to raise money, and the Heykoop Veteran Memorial Car Show was born.


But after they raised $7000 and gave it to an organization in Indiana, the group planning it had second thoughts. “This year, we wanted to give it to someone local, or at least in the state of Michigan,”
?Heykoop says. “But we tried to find one specifically about veteran suicides, and there weren’t any.”


So she started Lighthouse for Veterans in Nov. 2017. The website, lighthouseforveterans.org, says it “was established to remember those lost to veteran suicide, as well as their families, while honoring and supporting the veterans that are still with us; and to also increase awareness and help prevent the tragedy that is veteran suicide.”


Last weekend a large and dedicated group held the Second Annual Heykoop Veteran Memorial Car Show & Benefit out on Getty St. Though the heat may have kept some people away, there was a nice array of cars on show, as well as a bounce house and other kid-friendly activities. There was also a display of placards honoring veterans who died of suicide, including Jeremy Heykoop.


The group welcomes donations and volunteers; visit them on Facebook or the website or call 231-981-8501.


 

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