'Give my all': A veteran's struggle and his fight against all military suicide
A crumpled-up brown paper bag has a permanent place at the bottom of Glenn Towery’s briefcase.
It’s a reminder of a difficult but “remarkable” odyssey, Towery said, that started after his return from the Vietnam War in 1972.
Towery, feeling dizzy, sought help at a Department of Veterans Affairs emergency room in 1975, and a doctor handed him a paper bag to breathe into.
“He said, ‘Mr. Towery, are you aware that you have been hyperventilating?’” Towery, now 64, told Stars and Stripes in a recent interview. “I started understanding. That was the first indication that something was wrong.”
In the decades since, he became homeless and worked his way off the streets. Developed a crack cocaine addiction and walked away from it. Tried and failed at college, but tried again and earned a degree.
With help, Towery has worked through a series of hardships, including disability and bouts of PTSD. Now, he’s trying to assist veterans who are considering suicide — something he knows firsthand.
“I’ve been homeless; I’ve been hungry; I’ve used drugs. I’m surprised I’m even still here,” Towery said. “It’s all part of the makeup of who I am as a person now, and I’m the kind of person who doesn’t cut and run when a responsibility is there.”
Towery runs the Veterans Suicide Prevention Channel, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, out of his home 20 miles north of Austin in Round Rock, Texas. The website, vspchannel.com, runs all day, every day, and includes veterans’ testimonials, music, standup comedy and other videos aimed at providing encouragement that veterans and servicemembers might not find elsewhere.
Towery said he was “desperate” to get the word out to raise money for the channel, which won’t last long without funding.
“I felt like I had two choices: I could either sit around and watch people die, or I could participate in trying to help someone live,” Towery said. “Who knows if this channel will ever take off, but who am I not to try it? If I’m going to try it, I have to give my all.”
Read more at: http://www.stripes.com/1.435125