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Former Air Force wife talks with veterans about suicide prevention in Billings

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Posted at 8:10 AM, Oct 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-04 15:07:51-04

BILLINGS - Veterans work out at the Adaptive Performance Center, but it's more than physical fitness.

They get a chance to see friends, many of them fellow servicemen and women.

The people who run and own this center invited a woman to speak, to help stop suicides among veterans.

"I, unfortunately, have experienced firsthand the suicide of my first husband after deployment," said Kristen Christy, International Resiliece speaker and 2018 Air Force spouse of the year. "And unfortunately, our two sons have been affected for a lifetime."

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KTVQ photo

Christy visited with veterans and their families and talked about resiliency training, at the Billings Hotel & Convention Center on Sept. 24-25.

"In the military we have an acronym called ACE," Christy said. "A-C-E. It's ask. Ask them if they're okay, ask them the hard question. Are you thinking of suicide? The C stands for care. Stay with them. Do not leave them alone, and then E stands for escort. Take them someplace, some resource to help come alongside."

Mitch Kraus and Karen Pearson work with veterans at Adaptive Performance Center (APC), and invited Christy to Billings.

"Resiliency is what she embodies and that ability to have difficult things happen in your life and get through them and be able to help other people experience the same thing," Pearson said. "I don't know if I've really met somebody with the kind of spirit, that she has to never give up."

Chris Ingat helps at the APC. He served in the US Army from 2005 to 2017, and came home after getting hit by a rocket propelled grenade in Afghanistan in 2012.

"I've had multiple surgeries," Ingat said. "I attempted suicide on two different occasions. And thankfully the Lord didn't want me to go anywhere because I'm still here, and I get to share with people that there's still hope."

"There's always one or two that are will come up to you and tell you, 'I was really thinking about suicide,'" Crouse said. "But a lot of them, they've worked through it, they just get out there work their bodies works their mind and they get back on track."

"That's what what resiliency training truly is is empowering you to take control of situations," Ingat said.

"Have that purpose," Christy said. That's so very important for people to find that within themselves. And my new groom helps ease that pain, but I also have community members that come alongside. We are not made to do life alone."