Great stuff by Virginia Del. Mark Keam on an important subject! Also, I agree that everyone should check out Sebastian Junger’s excellent book, “Tribe” (and also Junger’s superb film “Restrepo” while you’re at it).
We’ve all heard about the instances of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other ailments that our bravest suffer as a result of their military service. And in the worst case, these symptoms end in tragic suicides, which, according to some studies, add up to approximately 22 lives being lost each day.
If you are a veteran who’s struggling with PTSD or other issues, please call 1-800-273-8255, text 838255 or check out this site because someone will#BeThere for you: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/
Although I’m just a civilian, I want to do my (very small) part to raise awareness of this national crisis by doing 22 push ups each day.
I realize that participating in this challenge might be viewed as just another social media fad and will not make much of a difference, as this soldier explains: http://observer.com/…/doing-22-push-ups-and-posting-it-on-…/
So, instead of nominating anyone else to do the same or posting a video of me doing push ups each day, I’ll ask anyone interested in this issue to read and learn about ways you can help. These are some ideas offered by the author in the post I linked above:
1. Donate whatever you can to charities that assist veterans.
2. Speak to veterans on Veteran’s Day or on any day, and listen to what they have to say. If they want to talk about how great their time in the service was, fine. If they want to talk about how much they hate the government, fine. If they want to talk about how war is a bunch of bullshit and they’ve burned all their medals, fine. They’ve earned the right to talk about it without any judgement at all. They deserve the catharsis that comes with speaking about their experience whether you or anyone else agrees with their opinion. If you don’t agree with them, bite your damn tongue. Remember – they lived the experience, you didn’t.
3. Be there for the veterans you do know, and actively involve them in life. Arrange for others in your circle to do the same. One of the biggest problems veterans face when they return home from conflict is the fact that they have gone from being with a group of people who spend all their time together and have each other’s backs to being alone in an apartment, in a world where it’s every man for himself. That’s a recipe for disaster.
4. Stop making them feel like victims. Remove the word from your vocabulary. What veterans need more than anything is to feel useful and needed. Treating them as victims encourages the mindset of further victimhood and separation from the person they used to be. In WWI & II, the men returning home were needed in their communities to go back to work and rebuild. Nowadays veterans are lost, because we don’t have communities anymore, and they no longer feel needed. Most of those who went to war in the 20th century were teachers, plumbers, accountants. People who lived in the community and could return to it and do their job after the war was over. A professional soldier can’t do that – there is nothing for them to do at home and there is no community for them to be a part of.
5. Read Sebastian Junger’s book Tribe, which goes into a lot of the reasons why we are seeing higher than ever rates in PTSD in veterans, when the casualties of war are so much fewer compared to the wars of the 20th century. It’s only 136 pages and you’ll devour it in a couple of days, so no excuses. Reading this book will give you more awareness of veteran’s issues than watching or participating in the 22 push ups challenge.