When the drinks flow, so does the conversation. The Fire Watch hopes this IPA will get people talking about how to help veterans in crisis.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla – When drinks are flowing at Veterans United Craft Brewery, so is the conversation. Their new ‘Watch Stander IPA’ is a hazy beer that makes you think clearly about how to help local veterans.
“Many of my friends who stayed on duty are now dropping out and have had violent conflicts for 20 years,” said Nick Howland of The Fire Watch, a Jacksonville-based suicide prevention organization.
“Many suffer from broken relationships, many have been isolated from friends and family for many years,” Howland said.
According to Howland, the latest 2018 data shows that more than 6,000 veterans committed suicide that year. It’s a difficult topic to talk about, but easier to talk about over a glass of beer.
“Most people meet at the dinner table or drink or eat with friends, and beer is usually an important part of that conversation or activity,” said Ron Gamble.
He is the owner and brewer of the Veterans United Craft Brewery in Jacksonville. He is also a Navy veteran. The two worked together to create the Watch Stander IPA, named after the Watch Stander program, with The Fire Watch.
It is a free, 30 minute training program that teaches you how to identify and help a veteran in crisis.
“The more guarded there are trained out there, the more veterans we can stop suicidal thoughts,” Howland said.
Combining beer with suicide prevention can be an irritating idea at first, but at VU Brew they even train their staff to be Watch Standers ready to help veterans who come in and open up.
“We worked with (The Fire Watch) to train our staff here because people come to bars and breweries, especially the taproom, they talk a lot,” Gamble said. “You are alleviating some of your concerns. If we could get one step closer to helping, it would be a great thing.”
On #GMJ: @VUbrew’s new Watch Stander IPA is a hazy IPA that lets you “clearly” see how YOU can help local veterans in crisis! pic.twitter.com/A9Q2f15Fmi
– Leah Shields (@LeahShieldsNews) January 29, 2021
Companies like VU Brew that train their employees are listed as Veteran Safe Space by The Fire Watch.
The Watch Standers program started in May 2020 and now has 320 trained people. Howland’s goal is to have 3,000 people trained by the end of 2021.
“It is mobilizing a community force of veterans and civilians who can be trained to identify these signs of risk, ask a veteran if they need help, and guide them to the abundance of veteran resources we have here in northeast Florida “Howland said.
click Here If you want to learn more about how to become a Watch Stander.
The Watch Stander IPA will be released on Friday, January 29th at 4:30 pm at the Veterans United Craft Brewery. Gamble says 14 other places in town told him they plan to carry the beer too.