Our dear friend Brienne Maner, from the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship, chats with us on a regular basis, about life, entertainment, adventures in marriage, raising kids and her dog Eddie Money, and quite often about worthwhile events going on in Sioux Falls.

This week's 1 Million Cups event at 9 AM Wednesday, November 11 (Veteran's Day), at the Center for Visual Materials is one of those.  Army Major Chris Mercado is a Sioux Falls native, who just happened to graduate from Washington High School with Brienne, will be the featured speaker.

In-person seating is limited to 40 and you are asked to wear a mask. Or you can attend virtually by going to the 1 Million Cups Facebook page.

Chris Mercado spent over 20 years in the military and was deployed in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, and the West Bank. He completed a Bachelor's degree at USD and a Master's degree at Georgetown University.

It was after a 6-hour late-night phone call with one of his former soldiers who was on the verge of suicide after battling PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and a traumatic brain injury (TBI), that the idea for Objective Zero was born. That soldier is now a member of the Objective Zero team thanks to that lifesaving phone call.

Objective Zero's goal is to enhance social connection and access to mental health resources in the effort to end suicide in the military community. To that end, an innovative mobile app was created that connects users to peer support and wellness resources.

It is a much-needed tool in the arsenal of the battle against serviceperson suicide because the statistics are stunning!

  • Twenty veterans (on average) commit suicide in this country every day. 20!
  • 18% of the suicides in the U.S. are veterans, even though veterans only make up 9% of the population
  • 18-29 veterans have the highest rate of suicide
  • Female veterans are 250% more likely to commit suicide than civilian women
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