City officially takes ownership of veteran memorial
By Kevin Barnett/Reporter
BROKEN ARROW, Oklahoma— ‘The War at Home Memorial’ was welcomed to it’s permanent home at Broken Arrow’s Veteran’s Park July 17.
Consisting of 20 ten-foot steel plates, each a 1,000-pound silhouette cut out of an actual soldier lost to suicide due to post-traumatic stress disorder, the memorial is intended to bring awareness and start an open dialogue about this widespread tragedy.
“When you realize what you’re looking at is a soldier that has taken his life… I think it will help people remember the importance of listening, helping, stepping up and trying to make a difference,” said Broken Arrow City Council Representative Debra Wimpee.
The ‘War at Home’ campaign was created by the nonprofit organization, Mission 22, which draw their name from a 2012 Veterans Affairs report that estimated 22 veteran suicides each day in 2010.
That estimation has since dropped to 20 each day.
Muscogee (Creek) citizen Michael Coon said he was honored to play a role in the monument coming to Oklahoma.
Coon, became a Mission 22 ambassador after his son, Staff Sgt. Michael K. Coon took his own life in 2015 and his son became one of the memorialized soldiers.
“After over a year of working on the project, it was a real honor to bring the memorial to Oklahoma and to be able to serve the other 19 families,” Coon said.
Coon said he hopes the memorial will inspire anyone experiencing difficulties to seek out help.
Despite the 100 plus degree heat, throngs of people lined the streets to welcome the disassembled memorial, as well as the convoy of supporters who were escorting the truck on the final leg from Norfolk, Virginia.
The community’s reception proved to Coon that Broken Arrow was the right choice for the permanent home of the memorial.
“I couldn’t believe how many people came out to see us drive in… I was just amazed,” he said.
Personnel from the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Lighthorse Police Department joined the procession in Roland, Oklahoma as it crossed the border from Arkansas.
LHPD Chief Robert Hawkins said he saw his department’s involvement as ‘an honor.’
The memorial is projected to open in the fall of 2020.