Campaign aims to reduce veteran suicides

Tom Reagan sitting behind table with What's Your 22 campaign banner & T-shirts
Every day, 22 veterans die by suicide. Black Hawk College wants to help reduce suicides among military veterans.

What’s Your 22? is an effort by four Quad-Cities colleges – Black Hawk College, Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, St. Ambrose University and Western Illinois University – to spread awareness of veteran suicides.

The campaign asks people to answer the question, “What’s your 22?” Community members are encouraged to do 22 things in the year 2022, such as doing 22 pushups, volunteering 22 hours at a homeless shelter, or donating $22 to the campaign.

Participants can upload a photo and share why they chose to bring awareness of veteran suicides.

The money raised by the campaign will be used for projects and programs for the Quad Cities Student Veterans Advocacy Group.

“We try to provide veterans with the necessary resources to cope with college and civilian life,” said Tom Reagan, BHC’s coordinator of veterans services.

“We believe suicide is preventable, and our mission is to assist the transitioning servicemember into college life with as little stress and anxiety as possible,” he said.

4 people wearing What's Your 22 T-shirts
Annie Oldenburg, Isabella (Izzy) MallerySondgeroth, Jae Morales and Tom Reagan

As part of the campaign, students in ART 217 designed images for the What’s your 22? T-shirts. Eleven students created 16 designs and two were chosen for the shirts.

“Whenever possible, I love to give our students real-world opportunities to develop their skills,” said Annie Oldenburg, assistant professor of art.

“This project not only pushed the students out of their comfort zone, it helped to prepare them for a future career by consulting with a client, developing thumbnails, working through the creative process, and finally presenting their work to a panel,” she said.

Isabella (Izzy) MallerySondgeroth designed the graphic on the front of the shirt and Jae Corales designed the graphic on the back.

back of T-shirt with semicolon and outline of soldierThe front image features the outline of five servicemembers in various poses with the text, “What’s Your 22? 22for22in22.”

The back image featured a large semicolon with the outline servicemember inside the semicolon.

“The semicolon symbolizes a continuation of someone’s life,” Reagan said.

“The semicolon is a representation of strength in the middle of a storm,” he said. “It is used as an affirmation of solidarity against a plethora of mental health issues.”

If you are in crisis and want to talk to someone, call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at this three-digit number, 988. The service is free, confidential, and available 24/7.