Veterans life insurance

Rotterdam veteran raises awareness of military suicide – The Daily Gazette

When Rotterdam resident and Navy veteran Daniel Paige sets out on one of his 17-mile rides, he’s carrying far more than his 60.4-pound bag.

“So many veterans, when they go home, it doesn’t matter. . . the things they’ve seen, they feel like they have to carry the weight themselves,” Paige said. “The 60 pounds [is] a symbolic form of their weight and that they don’t have to carry it themselves. We can wear it together.

This month, over three days, he plans to travel more than 50 miles while carrying a 60-pound bag to raise awareness of soldier and veteran suicide. This is part of a nationwide Facebook challenge movement organized by the nonprofit Stop Soldier Suicide and supported by insurance provider USAA to help raise awareness and funds for veterans and military personnel at risk.

Paige spent about a dozen years in the Marine Corps after graduating from Mohonasen High School in 1993. He completed boot camp on Paris Island in South Carolina and was stationed at Camp Pendleton in California before re-enlisting for another four years in 1997 and serving in Washington, D.C. After a few years working with the Baltimore City Police Department, he returned to the Marine Corps in 2004 and was sent to the overseas for multiple deployments.
After stints at the San Diego Department of Defense, Watervliet Arsenal, and the New York State Department of Education, Paige has in recent years become a full-time building inspector and runs A-Pro Home Inspections.

Paige is also actively involved in veterans’ causes and organizations, including Operation At Ease (OAE), a Rotterdam-based nonprofit that matches veterans and first responders with local shelter dogs and offers a guided training program for post-traumatic stress and a light mobility service. dogs.
Paige entered the program in 2015 and was paired with Shirley, a pit bull who is now 12 years old.

“She was the first rescue dog we placed with a veteran,” said OAE founder Joni Bonilla. The pair eventually became part of the OAE logo, with the silhouettes of Paige and Shirley marking the center.

Although Paige is long out of the program, he continues to give back to OAE. This month and last, he donates 10% of every home inspection he does to the organization.

“The way he thinks he received from us, so now he’s giving back,” Bonilla said.

This is the first time he has taken on a Stop Solider Suicide challenge. He has posted about the experience and mental health issues on Facebook, sometimes live as he travels 17 miles from his home in Rotterdam to Life Church in Latham.
According to Stop Soldier Suicide, veterans are at a much higher risk of suicide than their non-serving peers. In a 2021 Brown University study, 30,177 active duty personnel and veterans who served in the military since 9/11 died by suicide. That’s four times as many American service members and veterans who have died by suicide than combat deaths since 9/11.

“Everyone experiences some kind of trauma whether they’re deployed or not,” Paige said. “There are female veterans who have probably been sexually assaulted. . . and it caused them post-traumatic stress. Then you have guys like me who were deployed in combat and maybe saw things [or] experienced things that [caused] post-traumatic stress disorder, but everyone has their story.

Taking on the 50+ mile challenge, which he plans to do on Thursday, is a way to show other veterans and service members that they are not alone.

“[It’s] to let someone else who’s having a hard time see that he’s getting into it physically,” Bonilla said.
The message is all the more powerful because of Paige’s experience in the military.

“Veterans identify with other veterans. In the branches, there is competition – the Navy against the Army against the Marines,” Bonilla said. “But the minute you come out, you’re just a veteran and I’ve never known a more unified group of people . . . So seeing another veteran, acknowledging your struggle means [a lot].”

As the challenge unfolds during Mental Health Awareness Month and on the eve of Memorial Day, Paige hopes people realize that veteran and military suicide is a lifelong issue. ‘year.

“It’s not just the days when we celebrate veterans. Veterans struggle with mental health issues every day of their lives because of the things they were exposed to or suffered from,” Paige said.

“It’s so cliché to celebrate veterans only on these holidays instead of understanding that it also happens even between these holidays. I think that’s my biggest thing. . . what better can we do to raise awareness not only among people who know veterans, but also among veterans themselves who are struggling with these issues? »

As part of the challenge, Paige is also raising money for Stop Soldier Suicide. To donate, visit “Daniel’s Fundraiser for the 50 Mile Challenge Powered by USAA” on Facebook.

For any service member in need of mental health services or anyone interested in donating, Bonilla also recommends HicksStrong Inc., a local organization that works to connect service members to therapists via telehealth so they can receive confidential support. For more information, visit For more information about Stop Soldier Suicide, visit

If you are a veteran or military member in crisis, call Stop Soldier Suicide at 844-889-5610.

There will be a Memorial Day Ruck honoring the late Specialist 4th Class Abigail Jenks of Saratoga County, who passed away last year.
Hosted by 2020 Saratoga Springs High School graduates Vincent Sablich and Jack Trimmings (who is an Army ROTC Cadet), the ruck will help raise funds to create the Abigail Jenks Memorial Scholarship for Graduate Military Enlistment from Saratoga Springs High School.

Jenks (November 18, 2000 – April 19, 2021), grew up in the Greenfield-Saratoga area and had a passion for animals. As a 4-H member, she cared for chickens and rabbits and showed them at local fairs. She also loved to draw and was an aspiring tattoo artist.

Jenks joined the military after graduating from Saratoga Springs High School in 2018, continuing a family tradition of military service. She was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She died during a static line training jump from a helicopter.
Sablich and Trimmings have held Memorial Day rucks for the past two years to raise awareness and funds for mental health and suicide prevention in the veteran community.

This time they honor Jenks. They plan to travel 22 miles with 35-pound bags from their Wilton neighborhood to Gerald BH Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery, where they will hold a prayer service. The ruck will end at the Saratoga Lake State launch pad.
Their goal is to raise $2,000. To donate, visit the Abigail Jenks Memorial Scholarship at

More from The Daily Gazette:

Categories: News, Schenectady County