McDermitt outpost offers stark tribute to soldiers who serve, but fall to suicide

Joe Vaneeten stands at the entry to his rock shop in remote McDermitt. (Kristine de Leon/Special to the Enterprise)

McDERMITT – Right along the Oregon border with Nevada, near one of the oldest houses in Malheur County, stands a tribute to veterans who have committed suicide.

There, Joe Vaneeten has covered a three-story-high wooden water tower with animal skulls to represent these deaths. He has over 200 of them.

“I wanted to make a statement about how serious this problem is,” said Vaneeten, a Vietnam War veteran.

Recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs say the number of veteran suicides across the country exceeded 6,000 each year from 2008 to 2017. Veterans in 2017, according to the VA’s report, committed suicide at a rate of 17 per day. That’s . . .