The United States Daughters of 1812 (U.S.D. 1812) recently presented Mikel Brooks, founder and CEO of We are the 22 (WAT22), with the first Arkansas Society U.S.D. 1812 Patriot Medal in recognition of his service to veterans.

“WAT22 is a certified 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to combating the veteran suicide epidemic through direct, peer-based, suicide intervention,” according to a news release. “The name of the organization is derived from the Veterans Affairs statistic that 22 veterans commit suicide every day.”

Mary Ellen Laursen, state veterans chairwoman for the U.S.D. 1812, organized the presentation, dinner and Bingo event. She asked Brooks to speak about his organization and veterans’ suicide awareness.

U.S.D. 1812 Arkansas President Kay Tatum and Veterans National Chairwoman Sheila Beatty-Krout also attended and presented Brooks with the Patriot Medal, according to a news release.

“Brooks and his team of responders have saved 109 Arkansas veterans’ lives in two years since the group was formed,” according to the release.

Brooks discussed how the responders (all veterans) are trained and also described the dangerous situations they may enter.

Bingo players donated winnings to WAT22. Brooks announced the money will be used to provide safety equipment and emergency medical supplies for the responders.

“The trained veteran responders are on standby 24/7 to respond to Arkansas veterans in crisis, talk them down, and get them the help they so desperately need and deserve. WAT22 works with local police and other first responders,” according to the release.

The Arkansas U.S.D. 1812 Patriot Medal was approved by the Arkansas membership this year and the society also approved the bestowing of the medal on Brooks.

The medal reads “Patriotism, Generosity, Selfless Dedication to Veterans, Arkansas Society USD1812, Award #1 Mikel Brooks, WAT22.”

“Brooks joined the Army at the age of 17 and served two tours in Iraq on the front lines, as a combat engineer. He was wounded and was retired. Suffering from traumatic brain injury, he became homeless and an addict. He also attempted suicide. After losing several friends and fellow veterans to suicide, Brooks founded WAT22,” according to the release. “WAT22, an all-volunteer organization, depends on the generosity of the community to continue its mission of saving lives.”

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