Women on mission to combat suicide among veterans

Naugatuck resident Jennifer Hanley holds one of the calendars her and her friends created to raise awareness of veteran suicide and raise money for Mission 22. -KAREN ALI/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NAUGATUCK — Not many people are aware that 22 veterans commit suicide every day, says Naugatuck resident Jennifer Hanley.

Hanley, along with several friends and fellow motorcyclists, decided to do something about that. They put together a calendar to help make people aware of the issue and are selling the calendars to raise money for Mission 22, a nonprofit organization that works to combat veteran suicide and provides treatment programs to veterans with post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and other issues.

Hanley, a U.S. Navy veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, said they began the calendar project in January and have raised $3,000 so far.

“We began selling them in July 2019 and will sell them until we run out of them,” Hanley said.

Calling themselves “Women on a Mission,” the models on the calendar include Hanley, fellow motorcyclists, and those who appreciate motorcycles. The women live in Naugatuck, Prospect and Waterbury.

Hanley, a branch manager at a credit union, has been riding motorcycles for the past four years.

“I am so proud to be a part of this, as everyone involved is,” said Hanley, who was stationed on the USS Dixon AS-37, out of Point Loma, San Diego, Calif.

Hanley’s friend, Regina Ceryak, a photographer and owner of Blue House Photos, agreed to take on the project, Hanley said. Ceryak donated her time, resources and knowledge, Hanley said.

Diane McCall, public relations director of the Oregon-based Mission 22, said the organization is very thankful to the Women on a Mission group for creating the calendar. She said the calendar will help raise funds and awareness for Mission 22, so the organization can get more veterans into free treatment programs.

“It is the generosity of individuals, groups and organizations like this that allow Mission 22 to be able to do what we do. We greatly appreciate all of the hard work and time that everyone puts in to help support veterans and raise awareness about veteran suicide,” McCall said.

The calendars cost $20 each. The entire $20 goes to Mission 22, Hanley said.

Calendars can be purchased at Ferrari’s Appliance locations — 160 Rubber Ave. in Naugatuck and 460 New Britain Ave. in Newington. Calendars can also be purchased at Giuseppe’s Italian Pizzeria, 1183 New Haven Road, or Riddle’s Pub, 419 North Main St., in Naugatuck.

Calendars can also be purchased online at portraits.ceryak.com for $25, $5 of which is for online and shipping fees, Hanley said.