WEST Virginia has more than 7,000 bridges and many of them have been named in honor of military heroes, such as the Herschel "Woody" Williams Bridge in Barboursville, named in honor of the hero who earned a Medal of Honor at Iwo Jima.
The new W.Va. 2 bridge over Interstate 77 will honor another hero, Chief Petty Officer Andrew Scott Mollohan, who died at his own hand on Nov. 29, 2009, one of the thousands of veterans who commit suicide. The average is 22 per day.
Delegate Bill Anderson, R-Wood, worked to get the bridge named in Mollohan's honor. The delegate knows the family and after talking with the man's father, decided to take up the cause.
"He was a very diligent young man who always worked very hard," Anderson said. "I am sure he carried that work ethic forward with him into the Navy.
"This young man served this country for most of his life. We want to honor his dedicated service."
Certainly that is true. CPO Mollohan's list of accomplishments as a career submariner includes the Navy and Marines Corps Commendation Medal.
But the bridge also should shed light on one of the leading causes of death among veterans — suicide.
The veteran suicide rate is twice that of the civilian rate; however, most veterans are male and males have a higher suicide rate than women. Still, the veteran rate is 50 percent higher than that of American males.
"More than 69 percent of all veteran suicides were among those 50 and older," CNN reported.
The Veterans Affairs office is studying the issue of veteran suicides, but the VA has problems of its own as it cannot seem to keep pace with veterans claims.
With an annual VA budget of $78 billion, no nation does more for its veterans, but with a backlog of more than 400,000 claims that are 125 days or older, no nation does as poorly.
Imagine an insurance company that made you wait four months or longer for a response.
Obviously, the nation must do a better job in helping veterans like the late CPO Mollohan get the help they earned. May this bridge help stir the changes that are needed.