Three Highlands Ranch teenagers were honored last week with awards from the Highlands Ranch American Legion Post 1260 and the American Legion Auxiliary for their work to bring awareness to the increased rate of suicides among Veterans.
In presenting Kimberly Whitmore, Bella Lewis and Alice Sun with the American Legion Auxiliary Good Deed Award, President Helen Guthrie said it took the work of three young minds to make adults take notice and pay attention to a serious issue.
Over the last year, the three students, who are members of HOSA (Future Health Professionals of America), wanted a project where they could bring attention to an important issues and help educate and inform the community.
The three teens partnered with the Veteran Affairs Eastern Colorado Healthcare System, the American Legion Auxiliary, the Veterans Coalition of San Luis Valley, the American Legion, and Project Sanctuary. With the help of these partners, Whitmore, Lewis and Sun distributed brochures, posters, infographics, and bookmarks throughout the community, including veteran support locations.
The teens also attended an outreach event known as Project Sanctuary where they worked together to help veterans and their families find resources they could use immediately.
After winning state competition because of their work with veterans, the three teens are now moving on to an international competition through HOSA that will be held virtually on June 22.
Guthrie said the work Whitmore, Lewis sand Sun did goes further than winning competitions. Guthrie said the education and work they did has gone beyond Douglas County, with state lawmakers asking the young women to work toward passing laws to help veterans in crisis.
“It takes my breath away knowing how important you young ladies are,” Guthrie said.
In presenting the students with a certificate of appreciation, Joe Langran, of American Legion Post 1260, said it is hard for veterans to go from war to normal life. Getting help is important, he said.
“The project you have undertaken is to be commended,” he said. “Veteran suicide is a complicated, tough issue.”
When asked what they learned from the project, Lewis said she didn't realize how much a veteran struggling and coming back from war can really impact an entire family.
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