Veterans speak out about suicide prevention, reflect on 9/11

WAUSA, Neb. - A community in northeast Nebraska combatting trauma on the anniversary of one of the most traumatic days in history.

"Our family wants there to be more awareness for what happened to my son," said Kim Erickson.

Erickson lost his son Trevor to suicide three years ago.

"He had been deployed maybe six times," said Erickson. "So he came home with some ugly memories."

Since then, the golf course in Wausa has been home to an annual awareness event in Trevor's honor.

"I raised him here in Wausa, so he grew up golfing this golf course," said Erickson.

Erickson works with groups like the Northeast Nebraska Suicide Prevention Coalition and Warriors Next Adventure providing a platform for conversation.

"I found out at his funeral that he was really respected at his job," said Erickson. "He never talked about it, so we never knew."

"People like me speak up for the ones who don't to let them know 'hey listen it's ok to speak up, it's ok to talk, it's ok to say when you're depressed, to say when you're struggling with PTSD," said Nick Rahn, the founder of Warriors Next Adventure Inc.

Rahn helps veterans across the nation dealing with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to find their purpose in life after service.

"The reason why I do what I do is because I've been there myself," Rahn said.

Rahn said he attempted suicide in 2015.

"I decided after that, I needed to figure out what my purpose was in life," said Rahn.

He started the non-profit in 2019. He helps reignite the camaraderie felt in service, by connecting veterans after service. Some brothers were closer than he knew.

"It didn't click who Trevor was," said Rahn. "But, once I found out, it's like losing another brother."

Rahn was already working with the Erickson family, when he realized he served with Trevor. He said they used to play pool together all the time.

"Everybody I tell that story to their hair raises on their arms," said Erickson. "Things are meant to happen."

This event just happened to fall on 9/11 this year.

"We have the privilege of gathering today to not only share the message of suicide awareness but also to honor Trevor and all of our fallen soldiers," said Donna Wolff, President of Northeast NE Suicide Prevention Coalition.

"Remember what happened on September 12, everybody got together," said Rahn. "Everybody got closer. Everybody started to work together. I don't ever want another 9/11 but I'd take another 9/12."

Unity, coming in all different sizes.

"If we can help one family not go through what we have," said Erickson. "That's our goal."

The event raised over $10,000 last year, which went right into the non-profits. Organizers hope the event is sustainable, and continues to grow and giveback.