As a veteran suicide advocate, Alejandro Suarez said he was compelled to organize the Memorial Day Awareness Car Show to connect veterans with the resources they need while showing support for the sacrifices they have made.
“I believe it is up to citizens to show them they are not alone,” said Suarez. “They sacrifice so much for us everyday.”
Suarez said he spent many months over the past year on the road visiting veterans around the country. During his travels he noticed a common theme in many of their stories – many soldiers are coming home and committing suicide.
“When you have 16-hour days on the road you have a lot of time to think,” said Saurez.
Saurez said he gathered those thoughts rolling around in his head and organized a car show aimed at bringing together veterans services while raising awareness about the growing number of suicides within the veteran population.
The event will take place at the Five30 Event Center – 1104 J St., Marysville – on Saturday. Suarez said event proceeds will benefit 22 Until None and trauma intervention programs.
22 Until None is an organization that offers emergency financial assistance, help with VA benefits, help with transitioning, advocacy, wellness services and camaraderie.
According to Suarez, these services can be accessed by downloading the 22 Until None app, which is an alternative to face-to-face meetings since many veterans may be embarrassed or ashamed to reach out for help.
According to the 22 Until None website, veterans are 200 percent more likely to commit suicide after militaty serrvice – 8,030 veterans commit suicide each year. Additionally, one in five suicide deaths reported is a veteran.
Saturday’s car show will begin with the national anthem and opening ceremony at 10 a.m. Suarez said more than 200 cars are expected to be on display.
“The response has been amazing,” said Suarez. “I may even have to turn some cars away because so many people have been calling me to participate.”
There will also be a bounce house, face painting and food vendors in addition to several veteran resource vendors including health and fitness, holistic and counselling options.
Suarez said while the event is focused around bettering the health and wellbeing of veterans, everyone is encouraged to attend.
“Families and the community need to be educated so I wanted to make this an event where everyone can come and see for themselves why it is so important to support these men and women,” said Suarez.
There will also be a dunk tank where attendees will have the opportunity to dunk local law enforcement officers.
Admission is free and open to the public.
According to Suarez, the area around the car show will be blocked off so attendees are asked to park in the Yuba County Government Center parking lot. From there, golf cart shuttles will be available to take attendees to and from the event.