No Whitewash

Contributed by James Hastings

Recently I learned of three warriors killed in Afghanistan and another who took his own life on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA.

I received this information from two warriors who recently joined us in our Alaska's Healing Hearts Spring Camp & Bear Hunt. What a small and interconnected world we live in. This is sad news and hurts the heart and soul to hear, but worse yet is that they are not the only ones who will meet their end this day.

Each and every day, an average of 22 veterans take their own lives. So you know what that means? Twenty one more are gonna do this today as well, whether we hear about them or not.

So this brought me to thinking on why each of them took an action that ultimately sacrificed their lives.

Despite the rhetoric and bunk that you hear from the mainstream press or the coffee shop talk about oil, copper or even human rights, I would assuredly express to you that not one of these brave men walked into a recruiter's office looking to fight for any of that.

In fact, I'll wager that they each willingly walked in seeking to serve and defend this nation, and her people and our inalienable rights as American citizens, as set forth in our Constitution - and to fight and die for them if need be.

They signed the papers and raised their right hand, knowing full well the commitment and consequences, and despite any reservations they may have held, they fulfilled that promise to us all.

The decision to take one’s own life surely cannot come easy. I've never tried it myself, although admittedly it did once cross my mind as a solution to facing my perceived failures and short comings. I personally believe that this is likely a "normal" human consideration, whether or not we choose to admit it. I also believe that, fortunately, in most cases the mind will move on and find other ways to end the need to torment itself.

That being said, I care not one iota for what is written about suicide (by those who have obviously never successfully done it), nor do I care about the religious beliefs to its regard. We can only guess and make proposals at what thoughts and images may press so deeply on one’s soul as to weigh the results of living or dying, and then to find living to be the lesser of two evils.

However, the fact remains that every single day, and I will restate this so as to drive the point home: Twenty two warriors "purchase a one-way ticket home" because of the demons that have been forced upon them or are somehow allowed to take up residence in their mind.

Can we in good conscience sit idly back and allow this to happen, without taking every single possible opportunity to reach out to someone in need and offer a helping hand, a shoulder, a moment to listen with the most genuine desire possible in order to make a difference for the greater good of not just mankind itself as a whole, but for the "man" himself?

It's not enough to "paint the wall" my friends. We must patch the holes and create a solid base before we even attempt to pick up the brush. Otherwise we are simply whitewashing the problem rather than repairing or creating inroads to relieve the source of an existing situation.

Make a difference.

Be the difference.

This was written June 11, 2013. In that time over 24,000 veterans have taken their own lives.