Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a huge mix of emotions for me and a lot of other Veterans here in America. Through my reading to understand my own situation and that of other Veterans I came across this article  from the Angry Staff Officer blog coupling this article with what I have been seeing come out form Sebastian Junger  and his new book Tribe, I’ve made an evolution of sorts in my view of Memorial Day and what role we as Veterans play in it.

Before I get into my evolution of thought I want to just first go over and take the time to explain at least from my perspective (and I can honestly only speak from personal experience) some of that storm of thought and emotion of Memorial Day.

“How the fuck am I still alive?”
“Why the fuck am I still alive?”
“Goddammit why him and not me?” 

“Was there something that I could have done?”

The day is like the perfect storm of raw nerves and emotions.

Regret – sheer and overwhelming amounts of regret the likes of which are so overpowering it consumes the mind. Loss- Never are you going to find a human connection like you had with your brothers in arms and that connection and part of your personal history that from a time in your life that was so transformative to who you are today is forever gone.  Mix emotions like this with a Military- Civilian gap and you head on a path to more toxic emotions like resentment and you wind up a self imposed isolation. A lot of Veterans find themselves in a place like this surrounding ourselves in a wall of the most toxic and negative emotions lashing out at people we don’t think understand us but whom we’re unwilling to connect with and share our experiences. I’ve been down that road and you know what? It’s not worth it. It’s damaging to not just the divide between ourselves as Veterans and the Civilian population but your personal relationships in your life. I get it! Brothers and Sisters I know how it can get to this point I just got back from it myself.

Now here is the evolution of thought. We all bear some stake in the divide no single party is blameless in this increasing Military- Civilian gap. But like Sebastian Junger points out it’s not malicious and not specifically directed at us. It’s a societal trend this disconnection we find between us and what sustains our way of daily life. Our way of life has never been so isolating as it is these days. I can see that now quite clearly.
I understand the sentiment of not wanting to be thanked for your service especially Memorial Day of all the days. I will be the first to tell you I don’t know that I deserve to be thanked for what I’ve done because I have gotten so much more out of my service than I have ever contributed with it. From maturing into a man with such a great example of what the right thing to do is from some of the best examples of men  our country has to offer to laying the foundation of principles and values that I base my everyday life on. Nothing I do could pay back for affording me the opportunity to be the man I am today and getting to do a job that I absolutely loved with people who I can’t even formulate into words how much they mean to me. It was an absolute privilege that not everyone is afforded and for that I am thankful.

I have an obligation to the men  who never came home to bridge that gap and express all the things they will never be able to say. We find ourselves in a unique position in history our generation of service members. We can put voice to the lessons learned from our time in war. Lessons like human connection, we stand as a small group who has rediscovered human connection on a level that hasn’t been known outside of war and disaster in our society as it slips further towards isolation and apathy. Last October I attended an event in Vegas and while I was there I was able to relate what I was dealing with coming home from war to a gentleman who had just recently lost his father who was a Korean War Veteran. His father hadn’t talked much about the war but I hopefully I was able to serve as a bridge and a window into a part of his fathers past that he never understood. That was one of the most meaningful experiences I’ve had in my life being able to do that for another human being. It is our obligation to honor those that came before us and who are by merit of Military service part of our lineage now.

So the next time somebody says to you “Thank you for your service” on Memorial Day please please please be an arbiter of change and open a dialogue and bridge that gap we owe it to those who came before us and those who never made it home to be ambassadors of our proud lineage.

The little things.

As we sit here five days away from Memorial day I’ve been reflecting on my time spent in Afghanistan and some of the friends who aren’t here anymore. I started remember small details that start sticking out to me as clear in my mind  as they ever were. I once sat under a canopy of camo netting surrounded by Hesco barrier (big baskets filled with dirt to stop bullets) waiting for our little outpost to get shot at for the third time that day in the heat of August just bullshitting with my brothers about what we would eat when we got back or the terrible things I can’t mention that we would do to get our hands on a Klondike bar. I looked up through the camo net as I lie on a makeshift bench in my IOTV (now just a glorified plate carrier to hopefully stop bullets) with my helmet right at my side ready at the first sound of contact to get to our defensive positions , and I had one clear thought that I can still remember ” God what I wouldn’t do to just be able to lie out in the sun and just soak it up and maybe even take a nap”. Through everything I deal with everyday I’ve decided to embrace that thought and pursue  that very activity. Lying back on a lawn chair I look out at the forest that stretches out before me as the wind whips some wind chimes hanging up back and forth.
It gives me time to look back and appreciate being able to just sit here and relax and take in the experience , the sensation of the wind blowing against my skin the birds I can hear in the trees , and the smell of the lilac bush. Taking it all in just living in that moment I can stop thinking about the things that were the places I’ve been and the friends I’ve lost and just exist in that moment. Life is full of these opportunities these instances where we can put everything in our heads aside drop all that baggage and just embrace the fact that you’re here and you’re alive. Go out and take advantage of these opportunities go out and use them. It can provide a great deal of grounding or at least it kind of has for me.

In the end sometimes it’s the little things. The passing thoughts the plans you had in your head with what you wanted to do when you get back that can bring you closer to those we didn’t bring back or what you might feel like you left behind there.

The reality we live in

So this article was shown to me yesterday and since I read it it’s been haunting me somewhat.

http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/pentagon/2015/09/30/dod-releases-2nd-quarter-suicide-figures/73096494/

In 2014 the numbers show 534  Active duty ,Reserve, and National Guard deaths due to suicide. Take a second and just think about that number 534. Now think about the statistic of 22 veterans not currently serving in an active or reserve capacity a day committing suicide. These numbers largely rely on states reporting and knowing if they had a veteran status for suicide numbers reported. Well in case you aren’t in the know the systems for bothering to look into a persons veterans status is wholly inadequate as you can expect in any bureaucratic system. This also doesn’t take into account those who accidentally overdose on drugs. Drug abuse is widely used to cope with the reality of living with Post Traumatic Stress. These numbers are unfathomable! If as many people died form Ebola as die from Veteran Suicide the CDC would quarantine the entire country and people would be in an absolute panic.

 

This is the reality we as veterans find ourselves living in every day. Our community is a small one and the evidence of the impact this is having on us can be seen everyday.

I wake up with my cup of coffee and turn on my computer and browse my facebook (which is primarily used to keep in touch with my Army family) and I am notified it’s my buddy’s birthday. His page was never taken down since his passing in March from a drug overdose. He had been trying to come to grips with the realities of living through our deployment in Afghanistan and hadn’t been getting the help that he needed at the VA so he turned to drug abuse to escape it.  I saw posts from his mother and his sister as well as some of my brothers from the platoon I deployed with. All I could do is sit there completely all consumed in the reality of his absence. I can see the grief in the posts on his page and it weighs on me. I’m laid upon by a dark and daunting morass of emotion. This is a man who I went through war with. Damn near every good memory I have from my war experience involves him. I’m reminded of pulling shitty ass night time guard duty to looking across our position at him eyes wide and face pale as the 107mm rockets start coming in around us  , even being pinned down by enemy fire and nearly being wiped off this earth by a well placed RPG as we made movement to a better position. I had the experience of being part of a group of men that would unquestioningly die for me and I for them. His loss is so deeply felt by me and the other 30 men that were on that small outpost in the mountains of Afghanistan I don’t know that there are words to quantify it.

This level of connection is repeated through out the entire military. Breaking these connections is absolutely devastating to us. We are a demographic that is in absolute crisis. We need to be there for each other and watch over one another. The stigma that it is weak to seek out help for mental health issues need to be combated on all fronts and we need to do a better job of reaching out and bringing up the hard issues.

I leave you with this message and plead with you to’Break the Stigma’of seeking out help to deal with mental health issues.

If you or a loved one is a Veteran who is contemplating suicide and are in crisis please please call 1-800-273- 8255 and press 1.

If you are need of seeking treatment I would recommend looking at the program “Give an Hour” they are a great program that provides counseling to military veterans  and family members

http://www.giveanhour.org/

 

To learn more about identifying the potential signs of suicide visit

http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/SignsOfCrisis/Identifying.aspx

 

Substance abuse and PTSD

Just like my previous post I’m going to try and explain things from a warfighter’s perspective to kind of shine some light and give some understanding as to what it’s like.

Substance abuse is often looked at through a very judgmental lens, personally I use to do the same thing myself. Looking at it as a weakness and the people who did so were to be looked down upon. That was before I had experienced what war was like.

For the first six months of our deployment I was resilient to  the draw of drug use but there came a point where things were just crazy,you would sit there day after day getting shot at just waiting for the inevitability that you were going to get shot or they might land a lucky mortar round or 107mm rocket and that was it lights out. You kind of just said “fuck it if I get hit I get hit! Nothing you can do to stop a big ass explosive rocket from pasting you across the dirt and rocks”. Mix that sentiment and realization with four hours of sleep a night and the physical exhaustion of literally climbing a mountain every other day and the absolute cherry on the cake the Army’s malaria drug Mefloquin. Mefloquin was the thing that tipped it for me, it gave me nightmares that I couldn’t discern weren’t real. I would dream about one of our guys being killed in a taliban attack  (I’ll spare you the details because it’s better that way)  only to wake up and see him outside the hut we lived in brushing his teeth. You come to a place where you just want to escape from that reality that you are living in if only for an hour or two. I would get my hands on any and all pills I could coax out of Doc for our various injuries and it ended up crushed up and snorted up my nose. It wasn’t anything crazy but it gave me what I desperately needed, the opportunity to not exist in that fucked up crazy ass reality. I did this only a handful of times during my time in Afghanistan but each time that I had done so it was at a really low and terrible time that I really needed a break from. I just want to end this portion with assurance that nothing I had done personally in this regard effected our mission or interfered with the safety of those around me.

Fast forward to my return home. We were all excited to be back. At first.. I greeted my wife as if it had been an eternity since last I had seen her (which to be fair it felt like it). We spent a good week together before she went back home. She had moved back home for my deployment to be around family so that had me in the barracks until I transferred to my new duty station. Time spent in the barracks surrounded by the men I had been at war with and lead into combat was all I wanted. We drank and celebrated literally all day. We woke up in the morning at 0530 and had a quick nip before PT  (Physical training). Upon returning from PT we got dressed and all congregated in someones room and polished off a few drinks before going down stairs to do whatever menial paper work was required of us until our early release for the day. After which we returned to the barracks found whoever was sober had them drive to the on post liquor store and stocked up for the night’s drinking. Drink we did! Me and my platoon mates would down beer and mixed drinks then went straight out of the bottle. It was all fun and games at first. We were celebrating, we were amazed we were still alive. “How the fuck did we make it out of that fucking hell hole?” I would think to myself and look around me and feel fulfilled knowing I had my guys there with me, it was surreal seeing as how just not that long ago we were pulling ourselves out of complex ambushes and firefights. Things turned for the worst after we got all of the jubilation out of our systems. We were lost , we had no purpose anymore! Just some weeks back we were fighting a war! We were doing our jobs! We were taking care of one another and had purpose direction and motivation! Things got dark fast , thoughts turned to those we had to send home broken  and those who who didn’t come home. We didn’t know what to do about it so we drank. Every night we drank! We would congregate in one persons room and just drink all night. Eventually we had top go to our new duty stations after we got back from leave and part ways with our brothers. If it hadn’t been for going to a new duty station and getting my head back in the game and training up my new soldiers I would have drank myself to death. One of the only things to drag me out of it was the future prospect of returning to Afghanistan and getting to finish what I started over there. I recently was talking about all of this with my wife she told me taht when she went home she was “preparing herself for me to die”. She has had history with loss in her family and told me she thought I wasn’t going to live through all the drinking that I did while I was living in the barrack waiting to go to my next duty station. It puts a lot of things in context for me hearing her say that and maybe it can give some people some perspective on what it’s like.

Fast forward to me getting removed from my unit just before they deploy to Afghanistan. I had been diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). I was devastated, I wouldn’t be leading my soldiers I had trained up and turned into proper Infantrymen. I started taking some pretty serious anti-psychotic medication. So much so that I had to be prescribed adderall to help with being functional and a second form of adderall to take specifically to wake me up in the morning. My reality was now that of a zombie. I literally shuffled through my days like the walking dead. Not really present but still there all the same as far as I could tell. I slept a lot it was my go to activity with the pills I was on regardless of the adderall I was on. almost 7 months after m guys had left for Afghanistan I shuffled through the doors of the convenience store on post to get a coffee I looked down at the post news paper. There was a picture of a soldier on the cover , it was a friend I knew who I had gone to my first unit with and spent my earliest days in the Army with. The headline read “Duke Brigade Soldier KIA from IED attack”. The following week I found out one of m soldiers I had trained from his first day’s in my company was KIA as well. I spiraled down further than I had ever been before. At a friends get together he would have every so often I would drink myself to the points of completely crashing and breaking down, sometimes with violent outbursts sometimes just becoming a muttering mess. I had extra adderall and I started crushing it up and snorting it all the time. It made me feel something other than the terrible guilt for not being there for m soldiers. At that point in time I would have done anything not to feel that anymore. Drugs or alcohol it didn’t matter all I wanted was to not feel the terrible existence that I was trapped in. I pushed my wife away and almost tried to divorce her. I had never even dealt with the stuff I had brought home with me from Afghanistan it just all piled up and left me drowning  in a sea of misery that I thought I would never be able to pull myself out of.

Eventually I retired from the Army and moved home. I stopped all the pills they tried to prescribe me and drank little to nothing at all as far as alcohol goes. I eat better and exercise and take only vitamins now. But once upon a time I knew what it was like to reach for drugs and alcohol to not feel anymore. Now I know better that people go through their own trials. Veterans are still suffering out there and turning to drugs and alcohol, and dying because of it. One of my soldiers from my fire team in Afghanistan turned to drugs and alcohol and in March he overdosed trying to escape his life of living with PTSD. His name was Christopher Branscom and he was my brother. He is an integral part of any and all good memories I carry with me from my time in Afghanistan.

Branscum ntc

I hope this can give you a picture of the realities of what post traumatic stress disorder can lead people to do to escape the realities of dealing with it. If you or someone you know is self medicating with drugs or alcohol to escape the realities of living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder please please encourage them to get help dealing with their problems.

http://www.giveanhour.org/ – a great resource for getting free psychiatric help for Veterans

Contact me if you need other resources for getting a Veteran the help they need email me at Vestin112@yahoo.com

This is how Eve Online and its players has helped me

I thought I would take the time to update this blog and really spell out everything Eve Online has done to help me as a Veteran with post traumatic stress disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. Please bear with me the details may go into some length but after getting the chance to go to a legitimate “Eve Meet Up” at Eve New England and get the chance to explain to some non veteran eve players I thought spelling all of this out so I can get it out to the wider audience of Eve Online was a worthwhile goal going forward with this project to illustrate how helpful it can be for people like me.

My first experience with Eve Online goes back to 2007 when I made my first character. It was all so new but I didn’t have any real bearing in game and my schedule and the games complexity meant I wouldn’t be continuing to explore New Eden.

In July of 2008 I was deployed to Kunar Province Afghanistan as part of “Task Force Duke”. Being a member of Charlie Co.1st Battalion 26th Infantry Regiment (The Blue Spaders) we were put on a small combat outpost called “Seray” manned by 30 U.S. personnel and a platoon of Afghan National Army. What proceeded was a year of the hardest fighting seen in the Global War on terror with casualty tolls putting our Battalion at the top of the sustained casualty list of units during Operation Enduring Freedom 8-9 (not exactly a list one wants to make it on). We fought to defend our small outpost which was one of the first stops for foreign fighters pouring through the Pakistani border during that time. During the fighting season we would be attacked 3, 4, even 5 times a day with small arms like AK47’s and  PKM’s to large munitions such as the Russian SPG-9 (an anti tank rocket) and DShk (Russian made 50. cal Machine gun) with armor piercing rounds to very large munitions like the Chinese made 107mm rocket. It was quite the experience to say the least and more than a few times I was knocked around by explosions which caused traumatic brain injury (I would find this out when I got home). After that year I was happy to be home and ready to celebrate making it out alive and ready to live my life, day number 2 back hom I went to a movie and in it there was a 50 cal. machine gun firing in it. That’s when I had my first experience with Post Traumatic Stress my brain kicked into go time thinking it was in a dangerous situation based off of the sound of a 50 cal. being fired  (really well recorded sound might I add ).

The following is my train of thought and hopefully should give some insight to how some of this goes if you haven’t experienced it.

WHAT THE FUCK ! ? …… I need to find cover ! How did I not see this coming ! I’m usually always ready for this ! I must have been caught being lazy I didn’t see any spot where I could be engaged by a 50 cal. from ! Fuck fuck fuck …. I need cover where the fuck is all the cover? How the fuck did I let myself walk right into a place with no goddamn cover!? Wait a minute my wife is here !!!! How the fuck did she get here ?!!! I’ve got to get her someplace safe ….. shit shit shit…..where are my guys? why aren’t they returning fire? why aren’t they calling out distance and direction to the target? WHERE IN THE ACTUAL FUCK IS MY GODDAMN WEAPON!!!!!!?Holy shit I’m all alone it’s just me and my wife… This must be some kind of nightmare. It can’t be real?can it? O god please don’t let this be real….. I thought I was home.. This isn’t supposed to be happening at home we left the war back in Afghanistan.. Didn’t we?

This all took place in the matter of seconds inside my head and physiologically adrenaline started coursing through my body my heart began to race my palms got sweaty in a response to the brain thinking it was in physical danger  blood retracted to my torso in an effort to keep as much blood in the vital regions of the body in case I was damaged or shot or lost a limb causing my face to turn white as a ghost. I was holding my wife’s hand and accidentally squeezed it causing her to look over and see me losing my mind. I said to her “something is wrong.. Something is very wrong I don’t know what’s happening”.( Later I would find out this incident has caused my wife anxiety about going out in public with me and being afraid that something would go wrong while out.)

We shrugged this off as something that would go away the longer I was home this would get better it’s just so soon after getting back that’s all.  Turns out it wasn’t and this is something I would be dealing with for the rest of my life. I moved to a new duty station with my unit and got to the task of training new soldiers the ways of the Spader Battalion and preparing them for a future deployment to Afghanistan less than a year later. Now in this time I had a hard time getting out and being hyper vigilant while at the grocery store or anywhere else. To the point where I really didn’t go anywhere but I was working so much that “it wasn’t a big deal right? I mean it will go away with time that’s what they told me.” A year after we would find ourselves at the National Training Center in Ft.Irwin CA doing our pre-deployment train up and certification to go.

This would be another milestone in this journey. It was the first night of the 2 week combat simulation (basically roleplaying being at actual war) and one of the Controllers of the training tossed 3 or 4 artillery simulators right by my tent that I was in. My battle brain ticked on and took over. I mean took over, my body was going through the exact motions I had done so many times responding to an attack in Afghanistan. Picture watching a movie play out in first person view while wearing an oculus rift , no control just watching it play out. My body was acting on muscle memory while I watched due to the initial shock of thinking it was back in Afghanistan. One of the controllers noticed some strange behavior (I’ll leave it at that) and pulled me out of the training. I got pulled out to go see the Psyche doctor they had there and when we returned home from training I was pulled out of my unit and they were deployed the next month. One of my soldiers I had trained was killed by an IED and I spent that whole year getting medically retired from the Army on a cocktail of anti psychotics and anti depressants. Faced with the prospect of not being an Infantryman ever again I freaked out and tried pushing my wife away from me almost causing us to get a divorce. I was spiraling through a really dark place filled with self doubt , self loathing for being so weak that I was getting kicked out because I had Post Traumatic Stress, and having a conflict of identity. I medically retired from the Army in October of 2012 and headed back home for the East Coast.

I was no longer in the Army I was no longer someones NCO or Team leader I was no longer me or so I thought. I tried the meds for about a year. They didn’t help they gave me a horrible quality of life and put weight on me that I never had before in my life. I started looking for something to do with my time and I had a bright idea.. Eve Online! It was supposed to be hard core it was supposed to be something I could really put some time into. I started a new account chose the name J Mcclain (since I’m a big fan of die hard and yes I know it’s not spelled right lol ).

I tried out high sec for a month and it was boring for me so I looked around and found Gallente Faction Warfare. That’s where my real fun began , and little did I know that’s where my help began too. I began when Gal Mil started taking systems away from the Russians in Essence trying to sweep the war zone. I was in my cheaply fit frigate and jumped on the Gal Mil Team speak and hopped in the fleet that was fighting in the plexes. As that first weekend passed I starting talking with one of the guys leading the effort System shark  and come to find out he was a British Royal Army Veteran. I jumped corps to join him in his effort seeking that Veteran connection and someone who I could talk with. He was extremely positive and in the weeks to come we shared war stories and talked about Army life and all the things in between. It was great jumping point for me to be able to get into conversations with new people and feel like I belonged to something, I belonged in Gal mil. come to find out there were a whole mess of other veterans in there that I would come to know and share stories with. I got motivated by system shark to start going to the gym again I had stopped taking the pills that had made me feel terrible, I started to feel like I was me again.

It dawned on me that what I was missing that could make me feel whole again was a community , veterans I could talk things out with. It was during Eve Vegas that I had gotten the Idea to start “Best of Us” channel in game and I called upon Harrigan VonStudly who I had listened to on the Podside podcast and asked him to talk to FrFrm pukin who was the host of podside if he would help me out to get the ball rolling and the word out about a channel and community effort for us so we could have a place to talk to other vets and hopefully get some help out of the effort. p[ukin was an amazing help and supporter of the effort since he was a military veteran himself and had his own run in with mental health problems. I started making the rounds of Podside podcast , High Drag podcast , the Wiggles show, and the Open Comms show. I found a great and welcoming community here doing podcasts and have developed some friendships with many of the great guys who do it.

This past March I was doing better things weren’t as bleak and I could see improvement. I found out there was an Eve meet up in Boston and thought about going but wasn’t certain if I was quite ready to go into a major city with out the company of my wife to help me when things got bad for me. Time came and we found out CCP Guard was going to be there and Dirk Macgirk and shadow and light were going as well. Dirk offered to let me crash at his hotel with him and I was off for the first time by myself going outside the house for an extended period of time for the first time in almost 2 years since getting out of the Army. The ride there nearly gave me a heart attack and I thought about turning around several times but I made it to the hotel to meet up with dirk. Meeting him in person for the first time was a seamless transition and after stashing my stuff at the hotel  we sped on our way to the Bar to meet Eve Nerds. The bar was crowded beyond belief , at least for me, and things were very uncomfortable. Then Shadow and light showed up and we started talking and having two people be there who knew how it was a struggle for me to be there who were watching out for me went a very long way to helping me feel like it was safe for me. I got to meet CCP Guard who was an absolute riot , we got drunk crashed some birthday karaoke party and really enjoyed ourselves.

I came home the next day truly excited and feeling like real steps were made. I found out once I got home a friend I had deployed with had overdosed trying to self medicate the effects of Post Traumatic Stress. I knew it was a serious problem and had seen this happening in the ranks but now it had just become so real that I didn’t know what to do with myself. This was a person who is so integral to my life changing experience and most memories I have of the good times while at war that I couldn’t process it. I redoubled my efforts and focused on more awareness of veterans suicide and have been trying to go forward with the project to get to more people since.

I have just returned from Eve New England this past week and I must say it was a resounding success. I had a great time meeting all sorts of Military Veterans as well as getting to see CCP Guard again and meeting CCP Rise for the first time.I had the unique opportunity to explain what this project is and what I hope it can accomplish to not only CCP devs but people who had no idea we existed and made new friends in the process. It was a great and welcoming environment with truly great people. It was an experience that has brought me one step closer to taking back my life and providing me the ability to reach more people that I can help.

That was how Eve Online and it’s players have helped me and continue to do so. Thank you to all the people who helped me start this and to CCP for the shout outs and Rise and Guard for letting me talk their ear off spreading the word this past week.

20150808_235650_LLS

What do we miss?

There are many things that we miss about our service. But I would wager the most important thing we end up struggling with and searching for is the community that we left behind. The bonds that for most go beyond family ties for some. Here is a TED talk done by Sebastian Junger.

 

 

He is the director of the documentary films Restrepo and Korengal (which can be seen on the watch instantly feature on Netflix). These two films along with the video on this page can go a long way to communicating with our friends and families our experiences. I would highly recommend sitting down with your family and watching these and really being able to open a dialogue about what we’ve done where we’ve been and where we are now.

 

What we are looking to build with the Best of Us community is that support network of brothers and sisters in arms, to have each others backs when bureaucratic messes let us down. So I beg people who are veterans if you don’t need help still link up with us and make your presence known in our community so we can show each other we’re here to help and build lasting bonds. We’re here for each other in more ways than just immediate help in a crisis.

 

I have a lot of exciting ideas to bring to the community so that we can help one another and in the future a project that could hopefully bring professional help right into veterans homes.

 

 

This is my everyday

I start each morning with some quiet time looking through news and catching up on what’s happening. This morning when I logged onto my Facebook to check the various Veterans groups I am a member of and see what’s new with the guys I was met with this post.

Calling all Blue Spaders! A fellow brother is in need of some support and guidance. Show our brother some love in his time of need. All of our paths are different after war, but we don’t have to walk it alone. No matter how dark the road gets your brother has a chem light! I love you brother!

(to clear up what you might be wondering about , a Blue Spader or simply Spader is a member of the 26th Infantry Regiment “The Blue Spaders”)

 

What followed was the original poster putting up information about a member of the group who was having a difficult time and had shown some signs of potentially thinking about suicide, which was then preceded by approximately 100 further posts from other members of the group sharing information about where he lives what his phone number was and seeing who was in the immediate area who could go help as well as status updates from the original poster who had called the local police department to do a health and safety check and track him down. The end result was the former Spader was found by the local police and escorted home to sober up after they were as sure as they could be he wasn’t immediately at risk of committing suicide.

For some people they may deal with a particular instance of drama or emergency  playing out similar to this once in a very great while. For myself and a lot of Veterans out there who are members of Veterans communities this isn’t uncommon at all. In fact I don’t think more than a couple days goes by without a situation like this playing out inside one of the groups I am a part of. For me this is my everyday. Every time I log in to Facebook I have a brief moment of pause as the page loads where I live out an infinite string of possibilities that I hope not to see in my alerts.

Tomorrow morning I will take my cup of coffee and sit down in front of the screen again and wait for that inevitable moment of fear as I load up the pages of these groups. For me this is my everyday.