“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.” -President Harry S. Truman
I think it’s fitting that Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving are celebrated within the same month. I mean what better thing to be thankful for than the freedoms that were given to us by the brave men and women who put their lives on the line for that very thing. However, it seems like for so many veterans, that thanks falls short in the battle of helping them heal their wounds, both visible and not. We lose 22 a day. 22 of the brave men and women we are so thankful for, take their own lives each and every day. We do all sorts of things to try to show our support; yellow ribbons, push up challenges on social media, 5k runs and marathons. Yet, we still lose 22. Being thankful is great, but maybe there is more we can do. Let’s start with working on the stigma. Those men and women who wear the uniform know it best, asking for help is hard. It’s hard because then your chain of command knows your struggles. It’s hard because they might restrict you from doing the job you signed up to do. It’s hard because those invisible wounds are terrifying to relive. It's hard for so many reasons. These men and women have it engrained in them to show strength, “I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough,” is part of the soldier’s creed. Yet, no where in the creed does it state that it’s okay to get help. And, we have this unfortunate stigma that getting help is a sign of weakness, so it is no wonder many veterans don’t seek out the help they need; they’ve been trained not to, they need to be “tough.”
Breaking that stigma may seem like an impossible feat, but we can start in small ways. Such as, next time you go to say, “Thank you for your service,” could you follow that up with, “is there any support you need?” If you know a veteran, whether that be some one who just enlisted or someone who hasn’t worn the uniform in 50 years, could you ask them things like; "What was your service was like for you? How are you doing? What is life like for you outside of the military? How is your family doing?" Maybe even just a simple reminder that it is okay if they need to seek help of any kind. It seems we all encourage veterans to get help for any physical ailments, lets encourage them to get help for the emotional and mental hardships, as well. For those veterans or current service members in your life…reach out, talk to them, don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. The thing is, when it is too late, all you do is regret that you didn’t ask those difficult questions. 22 is too many.
“A hero is someone that has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” – Joseph Campbell
We see these brave men and women as hero’s so often. Let's stop losing them on our own home front to battles we can’t see. Step up. Reach out. Offer help. For those veterans or current services members; know that we see you, we hear you, let us serve you the way you have so faithfully served our country. We are forever grateful and indebted to you, but let us do more.
The following resources are all here for help and support. Thank you all for your service! Happy Veterans Day!