Nearly 100 veterans, their families and supporters marked Minnesota’s first Veteran Suicide Prevention and Awareness Day in North St. Paul on Saturday. Braving wet and windy weather, participants acknowledged that more than 6,000 veterans die by suicide each year, according to the Minnesota Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan attended the event to demonstrate the commitment Gov. Tim Walz, a National Guard veteran, has to addressing the issue. “Minnesota can and will lead in Veterans services and addressing these sobering statistics,” she said in a statement. Alissa Harrington, sister of U.S. Marine veteran Justin Miller, who died by suicide in 2018, said she is now a member of a club she never wanted to join. “But I am now proud to wear the label of a military suicide survivor,” she said in a statement. “Our family members are defined by their life, not their death. Our love of them keeps us going now.” Jessi Faue, a nurse for Outreach, Education & Suicide Prevention at the Minneapolis VA, said they have developed a public health model for addressing veteran suicide. She noted there is a crisis line veterans and their families can call: 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. Or text message 838255. Larry Herke, Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs commissioner, said the state was hiring a full-time staffer to help address veteran suicide. The state plans to follow a successful model it used to address veteran homelessness.