By Hannah Huntt, MA, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Stop Soldier Suicide

Freedom comes at a great cost. From Bunker Hill to Gettysburg, Normandy to Afghanistan and Iraq, selfless men and women have stepped forward to protect those they love, defend the innocent, free the oppressed, and uphold the values our country holds dear.

On Memorial Day, we honor those who gave their lives to this cause of freedom and the security of our nation–both in the course of battle and in bearing the burden of their service. In the ceremony of the day–parades and wreaths and barbecues and flags–the focus is on “the heroes of battle,” making it easy to gloss over those whom we’ve lost to suicide.

But the reality is that we lose far more U.S. service members and veterans to suicide than we do to enemies foreign or domestic. In fact, military suicide has claimed more lives than we’ve lost in most individual major conflicts, including World War I, the Vietnam War, and the Global War on Terror.

And the rate of U.S. veteran and service member deaths by suicide continues to increase. This is woven into our story here at Stop Soldier Suicide. Our three co-founders (U.S. Army veterans) returned from Iraq and Afghanistan having suffered no combat losses, only to begin losing their fellow brothers and sisters to suicide back home.

Each person who served in our nation’s military has an individual story filled with unique experiences. Every one of those people answered the call to serve and carried the torch of freedom. We cannot determine the value of life, by death.

Remembering all who served and died - including those who died by suicide - is a way to acknowledge service and sacrifice while also shutting down the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health in the military community. And sharing their stories can let others know they’re not alone and encourage them to seek help when they need it.

At Stop Soldier Suicide, we are actively working toward a day when those who have served in the military are no longer at increased risk of suicide. On Memorial Day, we choose to show reverence for those losses too. Because suicide doesn’t change their service to our country.

For all who are grieving the loss of someone who died by military suicide, we stand with you. If you are in need of support, please use these loss survivor resources and know you are not alone.