PTS Memorial Wall Displayed in Weston to Honor the Fallen
WESTON, Fla. (WSVN) — A special wall honoring combat veterans who took their own lives after having served their country was put on display this Memorial Day weekend, and its South Florida-based creator said it aims to reflect the real meaning of the holiday.
Davie resident Janine Lutz isn’t thinking about barbecues and a Monday off, but about those fallen soldiers who survived combat yet couldn’t survive what came later. “They made it home alive and yet they took their own life,” she said. “For every one that’s killed in action, 18 die by suicide.”
Lutz’s 24-year-old son Janos was one of those people, and one of the 250 on the portable wall she created to honor those veterans stricken with post-traumatic stress disorder who died by committing suicide. “I believe that they should be honored the same as those killed in action, as they received their injury from the battlefield,” she said.
Lutz set up the portable wall at Cafe 27 in Weston Sunday, as bands rocked and bikers revved their motorcycles to honor these lost American heroes. “I came out here to pay my respect to my brothers and sisters,’ said local veteran Fermin Jimenez.
Statistics show there is almost one veteran suicide an hour, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Memorial walls like Lutz’s, Jimenez said, offer relief on some level. “It’s helping the servicemembers and the veterans to connect with each and have someone to talk to,” he said. “Only combat vets understand exactly what another combat vet is going through.”
Lutz first set up a Facebook page, encouraging other grieving parents to share memories of their military children lost to suicide. The page then grew into an online memorial, and Lutz laminated those photos and displays them at events locally.