A new project calling attention to the high suicide rate among veterans is being launched in the Eel River Valley. It’s call 22 Trees and it is a veteran-driven project, according to HARDCAR spokesperson and Scotia resident Morgan Dodson. It was HARDCAR’s Chief Executive Officer, owner, and co-founder Todd Kleperis who came up with the idea. HARDCAR is a security systems company, based in Palm Springs.

Dodson said the new project will first be implemented in the Eel River Valley, and then expanded to other areas in California, as well as other states.

“It’s designed to bring attention to the issue of veterans’ suicide rates,” Dodson said. She cited a recent Veterans Affairs study that says in the United States, roughly 22 veterans commit suicide every day. “The 22 veteran lives that are lost every day to suicide is unacceptable and needs to end,” Dodson said, “which is why it is extremely important that we as a community come together and support each other and be a part of a positive movement to give veterans other resources.”

Dodson is an eight-year Navy veteran, having served as a Hospital Corpsman and in Afghanistan.

Some locations for where the trees will be planted have been secured, and others are still being sought. Dodson has contacted the Scotia Community Services District, the Rio Dell School, and the Fortuna Veteran’s building group.

Six of the 22 trees to be planted are redwoods in three-gallon containers. Three of those six, all donated by the Jonsteen Company, will be planted near the Rio Dell City Hall. Other donations are in the works, including a commitment to donate redwood seedlings from Humboldt Redwood Company. Donations of soil are still being sought.

Specific tree planting activities are not yet scheduled but will be announced when the weather improves.

A tree planting at the Fortuna Veteran’s building had been slated for Saturday at noon.

“I will be handing out resources, answering any questions the veterans might have, and directing them to the right place to get their questions answered,” she said earlier last week.

Dodson said the planted trees will be a “constant reminder; a long lasting and forever reminder, that we need to reach out to veterans and talk to each other.”

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