New statistics state that we now are saving over 600 lives a year…but the flip side of that statistic is that we are still losing over 7,000 lives every year. What we are talking about here is suicide among our most treasured commodity, our veteran family.
For years, 22 veterans a day have committed suicide, now the statistics say it is down to 20 a day…but many people that are in the trenches believe it is much higher.
September is suicide prevention month. In years past, I have attended multiple suicide prevention workshops. One in particular was put on by Camille Cook, the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Military family Research Institute. It was a very healthy discussion on how to prevent a veteran from committing suicide. You must know the signs of depression, you must intervene, and there were many more suggestions and all of them made sense to me in a text book scenario, but as we all know life isn’t about following a text or script…suicide and the prevention of it is about living and dying and each case is different.
I am a door gunner from Vietnam, who loves this Country and all that have answered the call to defend it. I need to keep things simple. First and foremost if you feel there is in anyway a possibility that you or a loved one might be considering suicide please seek professional help immediately.
I have been fortunate enough to talk with and build lasting relationships with Veterans from all wars, Veterans of all ages. One thing in common with us all is when a Veteran reaches out for help they need to be heard. The Veteran needs to feel that what he or she has to say is important …That’s it! That’s where it all begins. Engage them without seeming intrusive… listen to their needs.
I apologize to anyone I have offended with this simplistic approach, or the professionals that deal with this issue on a much more complex level. But I do believe that the healing could begin with compassionate conversation. I realize Veterans often times won’t talk to a loved one, but I know they might open up to a battle buddy or another Veteran that has a shared experience. The most important thing is to listen to them and then connect the dots when you can.
I am not a professional, I don’t have all the answers, but I have worked hard to build a networking system that might help. To any Veteran out there or loved one of a Veteran that might be struggling with the demons of war reach out and take my hand, we will fight together… again!