Tioga County, New York Exhibit Spotlights Veteran Suicide

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VESTAL, NY (WSKG) – September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month.

Tioga County, New York wants people to remember the veterans that kill themselves each year.

Tioga County Veteran Service Officer Michael Middaugh. (Gabe Altieri/WSKG)

Small American flags line the lawn of the Tioga County Courthouse in Owego this month. It’s part of an effort to remind residents of the 22 veterans who kill themselves every day across the country.

Tioga County Veteran Service Officer, Michael Middaugh, said any one can help a veteran. “I think there’s little things that you can do,” he said. “I mean, everybody knows a veteran. Somebody in your family might be a veteran, they might be struggling and you don’t even know it. Reach out to them, just make a phone call, check on them. ‘How you doing? Everything okay? Do you need to talk to anybody?’”

Part of why Middaugh wanted to set up the exhibit is in honor of Captain Timothy Neal, a Candor native who killed himself in 2017.

Middaugh said about ten percent of Tioga County residents are veterans and they lack resources. “We’re isolated in some ways,” he said. “Transportation is a barrier. We have no public transportation and a lot of the services the veterans need like the VA outpatient clinics and hospitals are outside 40, 50 miles for them to go to get any services.

“So to build those services within our community is important,” Middaugh added

Southern Tier State Senator Fred Akshar and a representative from Congressman Anthony Brindisi’s office were also at the event.

Middaugh said he’s working with both to improve veteran resources in Tioga County.