MAKANDA (WSIL)—Project Diehard has been busy for the past few years and still has work to do.
Brian Gibson was a US Army combat medic for 26 years and founded Project Diehard in 2018.
“The Diehard Project was formed after I lost more of my siblings to suicide than I lost in multiple fight tours,” Gibson said.
December 2020 saw a big change for the organization: with the donation of 20 acres of land and a facility to establish as their home base.
But there is still work to be done.
“When this building is remodeled, brought up to code, done where it needs to be, we’ll be housing 12 single veterans and two veterans with their families for up to a year, with job training, equine therapy, we’re just bringing a bunch of other networks in southern Illinois to help veterans in the area,” Gibson said.
On average, 22 veterans die by suicide every day.
Thus, on February 22, 22-22-22, the Onward and Upward organization, which helps the homeless, hopes to raise $22 million.
If they do, $3.6 million will go to the Diehard project.
“If we got that funding, if we got that, Forward Operating Base Rush here would be operational by this time next year,” Gibson said.
Gibson also said the fight for veterans isn’t over yet, but everyone can help.
“Your donation is our ammunition to fight this war on veteran suicide. The support we’ve had from Southern Illinois has been outstanding, and I want to thank everyone who has helped us so far, but we have a long way to go and we might need some extra help,” Gibson said.