Not a day has gone by that Patricia Conger hasn’t thought about the person she came into the world knowing more than anyone else.
Her twin brother Jesse was last seen on August 14, 2019. The former Marine combat veteran disappeared somewhere on the San Carlos reservation.
Patricia said Jesse suffered from PTSD and thoughts of suicide.
“He came down there because he was never getting out,” said Patricia after his abandoned Toyota Camry was found on a dirt road in the remote desert.
He has yet to be found.
Veterans struggling with PTSD and mental illness
Jesse is one of the estimated thousands of service members who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder.
According to the 2020 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, nearly 18 veterans die by suicide every day. The report found that more than 46,000 adults died by suicide in 2018, including 6,435 U.S. veterans.
Green Alerts could bring public awareness to at-risk veterans
Patricia is joining the call for a nationwide "Green Alert" system that notifies the public that an at-risk servicemember is missing.
It would be similar to an "Amber Alert" or "Blue Alert."
“People care so much and they will look. Have you ever gotten an Amber Alert and not looked immediately around all the cars around you?” said Patricia.
In 2018, Wisconsin was the first state to create the alert system, inspired by the family of Milwaukee veteran Corey Adams.
"On March 20th, 2017, he just walked away. He left and we never saw him again,” said Corey’s sister Carmen. Her brother was diagnosed with PTSD and bipolar disorder.
It took Milwaukee Police eight days to launch an investigation after he failed to meet the criteria for a missing person. Corey was found dead weeks later.
“The importance of the Green Alert is not only that it’s going to notify people when a service member is missing and that we need to look for them but it’s also going to bring the issue into sharp focus,” said Patricia.
Nationwide ‘Green Alert’ system
Only a few states utilize a ‘Green Alert’ system. Arizona is not one of them.
12 News reached out to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on the possibility of a federal law implementing the Green Alert.
“Kyrsten believes Arizona veterans have earned and deserved the best possible care for their wounds, and we should utilize every tool available to support veterans and save lives,” according to Sinema's spokesperson.
The Adams family created a Change.org petition calling for the alerts to become a federal law.