WEDNESDAY, 20 JULY 2016 – 1 of 22
NOTE: This is going to be an ongoing blog entry, almost like a journal entry, with various rants and quips from yours truly, as well as video clips from Veterans, personal friends, and other #22KILL supporters. I will be updating this blog entry as often as possible, and hopefully bring light to the situation at hand in regards to our fellow Veterans facing a seemingly unwinnable battle. Hopefully, if somebody influential looks upon this and will bring even more light to this issue, then maybe we stand a chance, and hopefully be able to defeat this silent enemy.
RANT: Look, I know as of today, our country as a whole seems more divided than ever. We have terrorist acts committed by various extremist groups and individuals around the world, not just in our country. We have socio-economic divides that are creating even bigger rifts within our country. We have the political elections and conventions, yet further dividing us politically against one another. Now, to add the straw that broke the camel’s back, we now have Pokémon Go, and that seems to be the only way to get our youth to exercise… if they’re not falling off cliffs or getting run over by two-ton automobiles that is, but I digress…
The overall subject that should be important, is the preservation, sustainability, and prosperity of our country. Period. End of discussion. However, as we continue to destroy ourselves around the World, this becomes extremely difficult, if not an almost improbable thing to accomplish. Yet, as all these fore mentioned things I’ve described take center stage and occupy our airwave time on the evening news, there is one issue that has seldom been brought to light. The issue of suicide, specifically, Veteran suicide.
Now look, you may think if this is such an issue, why isn’t this publicized on the news more often? Why aren’t there groups who advocate on this issue? Valid questions, I assure you. The answer itself, is rather complex. Allow me to elaborate.
We as a society have been raised knowing that Suicide is a silent social taboo, and if raised in a religious background, we’re taught from an early age that Suicide is something that you can go to hell for. So this subject is seen as something that shouldn’t be addressed, and if it is, it’s usually only done so when someone famous dies by committing suicide.
But take a look at the famous people who committed suicide for whatever reason, there sure are a lot of them. So ponder the question, what has become of our society as a whole that has rendered a lot of our fellow human beings to seek a fatally permanent solution to temporary problems? The answer is, no matter how much we’re told that it’s a taboo, or it’s something we can go to hell for, if we’re experiencing hell on Earth, who wouldn’t want to make it end. After all, it’s our prerogative to do so.
Now, before you bash me, I said that ending statement, because it’s the truth. But we neglect to realize the reason behind taking ones life. If we can understand the reason, and help with coping with it, then perhaps there will be no need to commit suicide. We need to understand, that even though we may hate each other, we must realize that each human being is precious to someone, and to everyone at the same time… whether we like to admit it or not, and when that person takes their life, it still hurts us, affects our psyche, and our very soul.
The most prevalent group that is greatly affected by this silent epidemic, are Veterans. For whatever reason, the topic of Veteran Suicide seems to be buried by other, “Important News” and “Dirty Laundry” just as much as the euphemistic jargon that supposedly explains the conditions driving our fellow Veterans to suicide in the first place. I’ll give you an example told by George Carlin in 1990.
The truth is, an average of 22 veterans commit suicide every day. That’s about 8,000 veterans per year, and this is a non-discriminatory number! Caucasians, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian/Pacific-Islanders, the old, the young, well-off, homeless… it affects, EVERYONE! All branches of service, active duty, reservists, guardsman, EVERYONE!
There are advocacy groups, such as 22KILL, that bring light to this issue, but there is only so much light that can be brought upon this dark subject. WE must band together and bring forth the light, like Prometheus bringing fire down to mankind. WE must make this an unacceptable statistic, and only WE can face it head on and destroy it. As Edmund Burke once said, “All that is required for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.”
I will personally do whatever I can to bring this to an end. I absolutely REFUSE to be the good man that does nothing. I WILL take the overt commitment to help end this silent epidemic. There are many who feel the same way. I hope that our voices will be heard and our mission is not complete until there are no suicides at all… not just affecting Veterans, but NONE. All lives matter, and this last message comes from my heart, “For the reaper who wishes to force our lives to a premature termination with pain and sorrow, I say to you…”
THURSDAY, 21 JULY 2016 – 2 of 22
Going back to my limited experience on the subject about suicide. I used to be extremely bigoted on this topic. Many who know me, know that I can be a temperamental hothead who also can be extremely opinionated to the point of being a complete asshole, you know, the “Always has to be Right” disease. Being the young, brash, cocky, and downright arrogant Soldier that I was, I had the naïve, misconstrued, and downright bigoted opinion of, “Eh, just take some Motrin and walk it off! You weak punk motherfucker.” However, I had no idea how uncaring and destructive thoughts of suicide could be… until I had them myself.
This is a very painful revelation that I will be sharing with you all. I won’t be able to share the whole story behind it, but I will share what I can and try to make sense of it. Okay, as I said before, I was a brash, young, and down right arrogant Soldier. I was freshly promoted to Sergeant at the age of 24, when we all got the call of mobilization. I’m sure I had the same thoughts that many of my organization had, maybe not in the same order, but I had the following feelings:
- Joy: Yes, if you can believe it, I had a brief moment of Joy. Finally, I thought to myself, after all this training that we have done, it’s like we’re finally getting called off the bench to play the last quarter in the Super Bowl.
- Disbelief: Then I thought to myself, this can’t be real. We’ve been sitting idly, yet training hard for so long, it was hard to comprehend that WE were being called upon to mobilize, deploy, and participate in combat operations.
- FEAR: The ultimate emotion every Soldier possesses, whether we would like to admit it or not. Hey, I’ll freely admit I was really scared. Of course I didn’t want to die in combat. No human being in their right mind wants to die at all. But I was more afraid of being a screw up. After all, I had just been promoted to Sergeant, and it was implied that I would’ve had to be in charge of a team. I was more afraid of getting them killed during combat than myself dying in combat conditions.
Then, I was going through Primary Leadership Development Course (PLDC), before our mobilization training started, when during the APFT, my clumsy ass stepped into a hole and I hyperextended my left knee almost 90-degrees in the direction it shouldn’t go. The TMC thought they could use my ailment as something to gawk, stare, and take notes with. I assure you, it wasn’t fun, and I still have lingering after effects from that injury.
Of course, with this injury, I was effectively done. With my leg immobilized in an air cast. My chances to mobilize with my organization was essentially knocked out of the sky, and I turned out to be my own Flak gun. During this time, I had a lot of time to reflect upon the recent events at the time, and I didn’t like myself for it. I had a brief moment of relief. Relief in knowing that I wouldn’t be going into combat, and I HATED myself for it. How dare I possess these feelings?! Other brave men and women are going down range and doing their duty for their country! How dare I be safe in the rear with the gear?!
After being demobilized, getting my DD 214, I was assigned to our rear detachment. I threw myself into the administrative and operations of my newly assigned unit, hoping that I may redeem my lost honor, and atone for my sins. It didn’t help. I still felt immense guilt over being a lame-duck Soldier and I couldn’t come to terms with my guilt. That is, until an experience, crusty, high-speed, low-drag Sergeant Major somehow sensed my plight… kinda like how they can sense when someone is walking on their grass, but more on that in another topic later.
I knew him previously, and initially thought that he was kinda scary. He’s a Veteran in every sense of the word, tough, kinda like a father-figure type if you were ever in need of one. He would engage with me in small-talk, and just ask how my day was going. Little things like this made me feel not only like a human being with worth again, but also like a Soldier. After a couple of months of this, he knew what was going on with me, and I got the help I needed to cope with my demons. I was able to serve for another ten years before my fore mentioned knee injury rendered me incapable of serving.
I have realized, that other people think you’re vital, you’re important, and in the end, you’re not expendable. No life should be treated as a number. No life should become part of a statistic. We each have our own value and our own soul. That should never be treated lightly by anyone, regardless if you’re a Veteran or not. You’re a human being, and you are precious to someone.
Here ends my entry for today. It may not make total sense, but I just wrote what came to mind and paid no attention to grammar or syntax. I’m not an English professor, or any kind of professional. I’m just a human being, a human being with value. Just like you.
MONDAY, 25 July 2016 – 3 of 22
Okay, yes… I have lapsed in posting a journal entry. However, on the weekends, I want to devote that time to my wife and daughter. Whom I both love very much. It wasn’t until I met my wife, and we had our daughter, I never TRULY felt what real love is. I wouldn’t trade either of them for anything, even for my life.
Life is great for me, I have nothing to complain about. I always have a roof over my head, I make sure my wife and daughter are nourished with the foods they enjoy, and I eat their leftovers so I’m fat and happy, hehehe… we have a couple of spoiled pet cats that enjoy waking me up between 0600-0700 (6-7 am for you civilian types) on a Saturday morning for their favorite cat food, occasionally I cook for my wife and daughter when they’re feeling brave, we have dinner with my Dad at our favorite local restaurant, nothing could be better for us.
However, the same cannot be said for many Veterans out there. Veterans of any war, of any age, have been through things that no human being should ever go through. Then, they have to come back home and the civilian populace expects them just to turn it off like a light switch.
Well, I can tell you from personal experience, that you cannot just “turn it off” and it becomes rooted deep in your soul. For better, or for worse, you are a changed human being. For many of our Veterans, they are changed for the worse mentally, psychologically, and physically. Then expected to return to the World and immediately expected to return to normal society like nothing happened. I hate to break it to you folks, but what is “normal” of those expectations? Those very expectations can be even deadlier than the combat conditions that they have been put through.
Many Veterans who have been through combat operations, wish that they could go back. That may sound absolutely absurd, however, you have no walked a mile in their boots. There’s a camaraderie, and esprit-de-corps that can only be found with brothers and sisters in combat… and when that is taken away, a part of their soul remains empty. Then you bombard them with, oh, take out the trash, mow the lawn, wash the car, oh babe that’s just firecrackers, why don’t you turn on the lights, why can’t you get a job, etc… that weighs heavily on the combat Veteran, even though it seems rather mundane to us.
Like the movie character, John Rambo said in the previous video clip, he could fly a gunship, drive a tank, he was in charge of million dollar equipment, and he cannot hold a job pumping gas. This is what our Veterans have to go through every day. Adjusting to civilian life is the least of their problems or worries, but it essentially becomes the straw that breaks the camels back.
Veterans don’t need you to understand, they definitely don’t want your sympathy, but they would like your support. Please support your Veterans. You may not understand the plight they’re going through, but let them know that you truly care, and that you don’t want their lives to become just another statistic.