A recent report from the Costs of War Project at Brown University found that more than 30,000 active military personnel and veterans have died by suicide since Sept. 11, 2001. That’s more than four times as many that have been killed in combat.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey learned of that study, and he’s now speaking out about the importance of protecting the mental health of active military members and veterans.
“Mental health is an unbelievably important topic, especially today,” McCaffrey told Alaina Getzenberg of the Charlotte Observer. “Unfortunately, I’ve been not a part of, but I’ve experienced friends who have lost their lives through mental health issues and who’ve struggled a lot due to mental health.”
McCaffrey has spent much of the offseason working on fundraising efforts for the Christian McCaffrey Foundation, whose mission is to serve “as a catalyst for the community and country by supporting those who sacrifice daily for the benefit of many. We show up for our servicemen and women for standing at the front of the most critical challenges of our time.”
The 25-year-old added that he hopes that helping veterans becomes a part of his legacy as an NFL superstar.
McCaffrey is the NFL’s highest-paid running back, earning $16 million per year. In four seasons with the Panthers, he has 682 carries for 3,145 yards and 29 touchdowns. He also has 320 catches for 2,672 yards and 16 scores.