Mission Accepted by: Navy Veteran Lisa Beddie
by Edwina Hoyle
Photos courtesy of Lisa Beddie
“I strongly believe in doing a better job of caring for those who have served our country,” said Lisa Beddie, a Navy veteran and Hilton Head Island resident. “I feel a connection with people in the military.”
Lisa has a new mission: To support both veterans and active duty military by helping to prevent soldier suicides. Lisa spoke to a Navy friend in California who inspired her to become involved. He told her he completed a ruck march last year to raise money and awareness through StopSoldierSuicide.org, and suggested she accept the challenge this year. Lisa checked out the Website; she was instantly committed and began training for her ruck march. Rucking is the basis of military training, and rucksacks are weighted packs filled with food, water, and any necessary gear. Ruck marches are a test of physical ability and mental stability.
What intrigued Lisa at Stop Soldier Suicide was the Black Box Project. Families of suicide victims are asked to donate their loved ones’ phones, computers, pads, and other electronics so a digital autopsy of donated devices can be performed. A forensic, technical analysis of texts, emails, photos, and notes enables technology to discover patterns in emotions, thoughts, and words to build a new support/prevention program using artificial intelligence.
“When you see what this organization does, you want to help, and I said, I’m doing this. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I decided to do a large portion of my march on the busy Memorial Day weekend to create greater awareness. I posted the challenge on social media, and friends and family donated.”
According to Stop Soldier Suicide, the military suicide rate is 57 percent higher than the national average. Lisa explained that her primary goal was to raise awareness. Second, there are simply not enough governmental resources for veterans and active duty military who need help.
“I don’t have personal experience with suicide, but our service men and women need long-term help. They struggle to make the transition back to civilian life. They suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), drug and alcohol addiction, and homelessness.” Lisa said. “Hope really is the keyword—it’s what’s needed.”
Although Lisa signed up for a 50-mile ruck march, she completed nearly 65! She set a goal to raise 250 dollars, but raised more than 1,000 dollars! Lisa wore a 22-pound weighted vest rucksack in recognition of the estimated 22 veterans who die by suicide every day.
As she walked out of Hilton Head Plantation, down Gumtree Road, and eventually over the Cross Island Parkway, to complete her goal of 25 miles for one day, she wore her rucksack and carried a large flag she made. She said people waved and honked, and some stopped her to ask questions. “Going over the Cross Island Parkway was a little scary because it was so windy,” she said. “A big truck barreled past me and nearly blew me over. And on Friday, the weather was so bad, I had to do 10 miles in a gym. A man there asked me if I was wearing a bullet-proof vest!”
“I will definitely do it again,” Lisa said. “If there are other women veterans here, I’d love to put together a group. I would sure love to connect with other women vets.”
“I come from a big military family. In addition to uncles and cousins, My dad served in the Air Force, and my older sister served in the Navy. She was my true inspiration, so I joined the Navy when I was 18. My son, Sean, was a rescue swimmer in the Navy and served on the USS Arlington, and my daughter-in-law, Jennifer, was also in the Navy and served as a Fire Control Technician.”
Lisa served for nearly 10 years as a Naval Dental Technician as both active military and in the reserves. “I was fortunate there was no conflict during those years, and I left active duty shortly after the start of the Gulf War. I was stationed in Florida, San Diego, Pearl Harbor, and the Bay Area in San Francisco.”
The Inside Scoop on Lisa:
• Locally, using her dental skills, Lisa managed the dental clinic at Volunteers in Medicine for four years.
• Lisa and her husband, Greg, moved to Hilton Head nine years ago.They have two grandchildren: 2-year-old Piper and baby, Wren, who live in Williamsburg, VA, with parents Sean and Jennifer.
• Lisa hails from Minnesota, where she grew up figure skating. She transitioned to ice hockey 15 years ago, and skating is her passion. In the past, she played in a coed league where she suffered a neck injury. She still plays at the Carolina Ice Palace in Charleston and rollerblades around Hilton Head.
• One of her “pet” projects is caring for feral cats, which she has done for eight years. She has three rescue cats at home. One cat, named Stinky, is now 18 years old and Lisa adopted her at 6 months old.