USAA Bank grant recipient 22 Warriors aims to reduce suicide deaths among vets
HENDERSON, Nev. – When retired Army special operations and infantryman Bill Emmel went through dark times, it was his platoon buddies who pulled him out. After losing too many friends to suicide – which can be the end result when friends can’t or don’t know to come to the rescue – Emmel founded the 22 Warriors Foundation, a soon-to-be nonprofit to pool veterans services to prevent suicide and provide a network to recipients in need.
Housed in the Henderson Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Henderson Business Resource Center (HBRC) in Downtown Henderson, 22 Warriors is this year’s beneficiary of USAA Bank’s Veteran-Owned Business Grant, which pays the rent at the HBRC for 12 months.
“I’ve lost a lot of friends to suicide. A lot of us have had rough times and got to that point. I’ve had rough times, and no matter what my family tried to do, one of my battle buddies pulled me out of it,” Emmel said. “When you get to a dark place, it’s helping my buddy that makes me feel better. Having the office makes that easier.”
A business incubator, the HBRC, located at 112 S. Water St. Suite B, provides office space to businesses and organizations until they can move into their own offices. In addition to the grant, the Henderson Chamber of Commerce also provided the honoree with a one-year membership.
Founded in February and still undergoing its 501(c)(3) paperwork, 22 Warriors aims to prevent suicide among active, retired and discharged military personnel through services that prevent helplessness. The organization’s name comes from a widely reported statistic that states 22 veterans die by suicide daily.
A statistic Emmel thinks is much too low, because it doesn’t count dishonorably discharged veterans, those who are homeless or die as a result of alcohol or drug addiction.
“I got tired of losing friends,” Emmel said. “[The grant] gives legitimacy to our foundation. It gives us an actual place to meet people. It helps tremendously.”
22 Warriors is the second HBRC-housed organization to receive the USAA Bank grant. Last year, Home Helpers and Direct Link of Henderson received the grant and doubled the business in its year of residency, said Bill Bokelmann, Henderson Chamber of Commerce Foundation manager, who oversees the HBRC.
“There’s definitely a different feel,” said Bokelmann, also a veteran. “It’s brought a heightened awareness to Downtown Henderson for veterans, I’m sure. Before, we were solely focused on business. Now, it’s more than a business incubator. It’s helping nonprofit organizations grow, and that’s what is exciting to me – having that approach.”
22 Warriors also has absorbed Veterans Helping Veterans, a support group that meets at the HBRC from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays to help veterans navigate their benefits as well as any other services they need. The group will become 22 Warriors’ benefits, education and assistance department.
From treatment, to therapy dogs, to assistance with household repairs, Emmel is on the lookout for any services and organizations that help veterans crawl out of the helpless feeling that often leads to suicide. Since he moved into the HBRC June 1, he’s been able to do just that from an actual office.
“I’m searching for as many resources as I can,” Emmel said. “Sometimes, people just don’t know what they don’t know.”
The Henderson Chamber of Commerce Foundation is a nonprofit corporation organized to manage and distribute funds and resources to further the development of the community through activities that are exclusively charitable, scientific or educational. The Foundation is responsible for the creation and success of both the Henderson Business Resource Center (a business incubator) and the Leadership Henderson program.
For more information about the Henderson Chamber of Commerce Foundation, visit hendersonchamber.com.