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Magnum Shooting Center partners with Next Chapter to target veteran suicide

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) - Transitioning from active duty back to civilian life can be extremely difficult, and it is often a major factor in a veteran's decision to take their own life.

State lawmakers in 2021 funded a program to specifically address veteran suicide in El Paso County.

It's called Next Chapter, and a local business in Colorado Springs that recently learned about the effort is now stepping up to help spread the word.

At the Magnum Shooting Center off North Gate, veterans not only make up a high percentage of their customers but also the majority of the staff.

When one of them recently told owner Melissa Lockburner about the Next Chapter program, she knew it was a way to support them by addressing the problem.

"It really got me thinking about better ways to get involved with that, so this was the perfect opportunity to dive in there," she says.

There's no question that a shooting center partnering with a mental health program is unique.

"As far as I know, it's the first in the state, and potentially one of the first in the nation," says Damian McCabe, Director of Behavioral Health with UCHealth's Military Affairs division.

But McCabe, one of the directors of the Next Chapter program, believes it's a partnership that works.

"Magnum makes absolute sense for us," he says.

He points to the example of motorcycle helmets, which began as a government safety initiative, and until the industry got on board, they weren't widely adopted.

"So for us to ignore the voices of those who own firearms, and the community that provides sales, service, and training, that's us leaving a big chunk of the community out in this critical problem," he adds.

As a 'message partner', Magnum will now have Next Chapter signage and literature throughout the store, in addition to promoting the safe use and storage of firearms.

"That's where we'll start, and I think the sky's the limit," says Lockburner.

However, what's most powerful for McCabe is probably not what Magnum is doing, but the fact that a local business recognizes the problem and wants to help.

"I don't think there's more than one degree of separation for pretty much anyone who lives in this community from the military, so I'm just really looking forward to seeing the positive impact it has, and to see what further solutions can be inspired by this program," says Lockburner.

Next Chapter would love to partner with additional businesses who want to offer messaging to their own customers or staff, or who want to make Next Chapter a part of any large events they're hosting.

If you're interested in connecting with this group, or if you're a veteran who recognizes that it might be time to talk to someone, it's as simple as calling one phone number.

It won't cost a thing.

The number is 1-888-719-VETS.

You can also find out more information about services available at 1-888-719-VETS.

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Bart Bedsole

Bart is the evening anchor for KRDO. Learn more about Bart here.


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