PANAMA CITY, FL. (WMBB) — FSU Panama City continued its illumination series with a guest speaker on veteran suicide awareness Wednesday.

Evangelo Vann Morris is a retired U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer. As a Submariner he served in the U-S Navy for 26 years, with one deployment to Afghanistan. He’s now a motivational speaker, raising awareness of the high suicide rate for American Veterans. Morris says there has been an increase in suicide rates in the last 20 years for veterans.

“From 2001 to 2021, we had nearly 30,000 veterans and service members that committed suicide in that 20-year span. Compare that with 6000 service members that were killed in the line of duty. So you had nearly four and a half times as many veterans take their own lives than were killed on the battlefield,” said Morris.

During 2020 there were over 6,000 veterans who committed suicide. Moriss says he focuses a lot of his efforts on bringing awareness to the situation and trying to reach the next generation with poems about patriotism, duty honor, and sacrifice.

“The first poem is going to be a poem called The Fight Continues, and it’s all about 9/11. But the unique thing about it is a personification of the United States Flag. So if the flag could speak, what would it say regarding 9/11? Not only the words but what type of attitude would the flag have it was to say words about 9/11,” said Morris.

During his last two tours of duty, Morriss served at the Pentagon and United States Special Operations Command in Tampa.

For more information about retired officer Morris’ click here and for future illumination events at FSU Panama City click here.