The Yavapai College Student Government Association and a veritable army of volunteers are launching a new campus tradition to spotlight a pervasive problem – suicide – especially among U.S. military veterans who complete suicide at a startling rate every day.

On Veterans Day, Friday, Nov. 11, and continuing every 22nd day of the month thereafter, the SGA and volunteers with YC Veterans Services, the Veterans Administration, the College Honors Program, Phi Theta Kappa, Campus Safety and YC faculty and staff associations will erect an “Unheard 22” memorial honoring the double-digit number of veterans who die by suicide every day.

The number 22 originates from a 2010 statistic that sparked a public outcry and dozens of veteran suicide-prevention initiatives nationwide. Thanks in part to those efforts, the number of veterans who complete suicide daily has dropped to about 20 in 2022.

“That’s still a huge number,” said Jamie Oltersdorf, YCSGA President, aspiring art therapist and U.S. Air Force veteran. “We created the Unheard 22 initiative and brought it to the table here because we don’t have anything like it in Yavapai County.”

Jamie knows all too well the darkness and despair that strikes many veterans during and after their service. She attempted suicide herself in 2011 and has lost multiple veteran friends who were successful in their attempts.

“That makes me more passionate about it,” Jamie said. “I’ve been in the darkest of dark, but I’m lucky. I have people around me who care. The biggest thing to show veterans and everyone contemplating suicide is that we really care and we hear them.”

The somber but hopeful “Unheard 22” memorial on Nov. 11 and every 22nd day of the month will feature a display of 22 pairs of desert combat boots around the flagpole outside both the Prescott and Verde Valley campuses. Each boot will hold a U.S. flag and materials directing anyone who needs it to mental health services in the community.

“If veterans see that we are bringing awareness to our communities, we can save lives,” Jamie said.

The inaugural memorial takes place at 1 p.m. on Veterans Day – Mon. Nov. 11 -- on both the Prescott and Verde Valley campuses. All are welcome to attend and pay their respects to our departed veterans. Jamie, YC President Dr. Lisa Rhine, and a mental health representative from the Veterans Administration will speak and a mobile veterans services vehicle will be on hand at the Prescott campus memorial event.

Because the Unheard 22 project is happening every month indefinitely, the need is great for green or tan desert service military boots to display. Anyone who wishes to donate a pair of that type of military boots can deliver or ship them in care of the YCSGA, 1100 E. Sheldon St., Prescott, AZ, 86301.

Questions may be directed to Jamie via email: