Shelton Police Lt. Robert Kozlowsky to raise awareness about veteran suicide rates

SHELTON — Robert Kozlowsky will be hitting the road again. His mission? To aid military veterans in need and raise awareness about the high rate of suicide among veterans.

The longtime Shelton resident, known locally for his two decades serving on the police force, has chosen to endure what he calls his most grueling challenge — running in the Marine Corps 10K, marathon and ultramarathon next month. The 10K and ultramarathon are virtual, while the marathon is in-person on Oct. 31.

“This was physically and mentally the hardest challenge I ever completed in my life,” Kozlowsky said. “I vowed to never do it again, however, it pales in comparison to the sacrifices made by our veterans and this is the least I can do to help veterans in need.”

Kozlowsky, a police lieutenant and longtime board member with Bridgeport-based Homes for the Brave, is now volunteering his time with General Needs, founded in 2008 to assist veterans, including those who are homeless, by providing new daily-living clothing, as well as items such as coats, jackets, hats, scarves, ski gloves, thermal underwear/socks, sweatshirts, sweatpants, blankets, footwear and toiletries.

Kozlowsky is co-chairing General Needs’ latest project, “General Needs 1342 Mission,” the goal of which is to donate 1,342 pairs of boots (22 a day for 61 days over the two months) and 8,030 pairs of socks (22 a day for an entire year) in November and December to those veterans in need from Maine to Washington, D.C. The project is estimated at $40,000.

Kozlowsky said statistics show an average of 22 military veterans die by suicide daily.

“General Needs, which is a 100 percent volunteer nonprofit, is raising awareness about the 22,” Kozlowsky said.

Kozlowsky’s mission is to purchase at least 100 pairs of boots for this project. Each pair of boots costs $22, and he is calling on the community to help in his cause and donate on a GoFundMe page he has established.

“While in D.C.,” he said, “I plan to make our first two donations in our nation’s capital.”

He said donations will be provided to Community Based Emergency Residential Services, which provides emergency housing for veterans with 24 beds; and Serious Mentally Ill Transitional Housing, which provides 12 beds for veterans in need.

“We will also be going to the Liberty House in New Hampshire, Veterans Transition House in Massachusetts, and Veterans Place in Vermont,” he said,