Since September 11, 2001, the United States has been heavily invested in the Global War on Terrorism. Our nations Armed Forces have pursued our enemies utilizing every asset at their disposal to prevent tragedies like 9/11 from happening again. Unfortunately, the cost our nation has paid for this has been far greater than we could have imagined. Numerous deployments have strained our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines to their breaking point and though most of them have returned, the emotional scarring has been claiming them at an average of almost 22 per day. This is unacceptable.
Most of us are well aware of the "22 A Day" challenge to raise awareness for Veteran suicide. While this is a great way to show support for our all volunteer force, it requires more than awareness to show them we care. It requires funding and lots of it to ensure that those who sacrificed so much for so long are given the necessary tools they need to be productive after their life of service has ended. We owe it to them without question. Yes, they volunteered, but when you realize that less than 5% actually answered the call when no one else would, the thought is staggering. The Nation as a whole is indebted to these men and women far more than they care to admit or are willing to openly state in public. Thank you for service only goes so far when the person you are thanking hides within him or her an event or series of events that refuse to let go.
"What can we do to help?" is the common question that gets uttered when there is a genuine concern. Most of us are wired that way. We help the ones we love without question and we will generally help those we don't know to a certain degree, but how do you help someone who is suffering in silence because of something they experienced on the battlefield? Truth is most cannot. Unless you have experienced similar things on the battlefield, understanding and comprehension is going to elude you in every conceivable way. Though there is no definitive answer, this doesn't alleviate us from our obligations to care for each of them no matter where they are.
Treatment and care is often times the most grueling experience these men and women face. The events are generally momentary, but the memories linger long after the moment has passed. For some, treatment and care is temporary while for others it spans a much lengthier period of time. As they progress, it is not uncommon for these hidden wounds to reopen. While the recurrence of symptoms is sometimes undetectable and without notice, a strong support network is critical to their survival.
Treatment centers are available throughout the United States in the form of VA Centers (both full service hospitals and community based outpatient clinics), nonprofit organizations whose main focus is the care and rehabilitation of our veterans, religious based organizations, etc. The key is finding something close and asking for help. Understandably, it's not always a smooth and easy process seeking help. For many of our vets, there is regret, remorse, and shame that is inadvertently affixed to their illness that inhibits them from seeking help. We and they must understand that the problem will not go away on it's own. It's not self curing and certainly not self inflicted. While we have all seen signs of depression, whether we choose to acknowledge them or not, for a veteran suffering in silence the effects can be devastating.
There may come a time when the severity of the situation is so dire that it may not be feasible for the individual to ask for help. It may require asking for help on their behalf. We have a natural tendency to say that it's not my problem and I should probably not interfere. What if your interference saves a life? What if your interference gives someone a second chance? What if your interference gives a child more time with their mother or father? Are these not worthy reasons to interfere? I am pretty sure that for each person that reads this, the answer is a resounding yes!