Where veterans can call for help…

Local News

The dashcam video released in an officer-involved shooting leaves veterans’ advocates urging those in need to ask for help.

The Erie County District Attorney shared telling evidence recovered from the scene of that fatal shooting, including a letter from the Cleveland Veterans Medical Center found in the man’s car, indicating he either sought out treatment or had been treated for suicidal ideations.

What ended with a veteran from Conneaut, Ohio killed started with just two 911 calls. “There was a man that was about half a mile east of Elk Park Road and Ridge Road.”

36-year-old Matthew Orrenmaa was shot and killed by a state police officer last week, but the Erie County District Attorney finds the officer’s actions justified and lawful.  

Dashcam video shows Orrenmaa skipping and running towards police, holding a black object in his hands.  Investigators also recovered a note near his body signed, “My children, do not be disappointed”.

The founder of an organization that focuses on veteran suicide prevention is responding to that video. Venus Azevedo-Laboda, Boots On Ground Founder, says, “It breaks my heart because, I said this morning, are they not hearing us? Are we not loud enough? It’s hard. You know? Especially when it happens here at home.” 

Experts say there a few warning signs to look out for if you think a one may be experiencing suicidal thoughts.  Jeff Rose, Behavioral Health for Erie VA Medical Center, says, “If they start isolating, not wanting to be around people, engaging in risky behavior such as drinking, use of drugs…”

The Erie VA offers several resources for veterans and coordinators say seeking help can sometimes be the difference between life or death.  Rose says, “Unfortunately, there are still 20 veteran suicides a day, but if you look at it, 14 of the 20 are not engaged in treatment. Veterans that are engaged in treatment and utilize the resources the VA has are at much lower risk of suicide.” 

Veterans and their loved ones are encouraged to call the Veteran Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, ext. 1 text them at 838255, or chat online at www.veteranscrisisline.net.

Also, the Erie VA’s Behavioral Health Clinic at 814-860-2038, where same-day service is available and they have extended hours (evening and weekend appointments). 

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