"There's no way to sugarcoat the sobering reality behind the name of the veteran-based hockey program, the Skate for the 22 Foundation. For years, military veteran agencies have estimated that roughly 22 veterans take their lives each day. Although a 2016 Department of Veterans Affairs study puts that number at 20 suicides daily nationwide, the revised figure confirms a serious mental health crisis.
Researchers found that the risk of suicide for veterans is 21 percent higher than civilian adults. For Burlington's Robert "Bobby" Colliton, an 18-year veteran who served in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, that was simply unacceptable.
"The idea of creating an organization to support veteran suicide prevention came to me through my own personal struggles," said Colliton, 37, a Spokane, Wash., native. "My last [active] duty was in Tampa, Florida. I was away from my family, not happy with my work, and going through a very tough divorce. It felt like all I had was hockey. I was playing adult hockey, coaching youth hockey, working out, and living and breathing Tampa Bay Lightning hockey."