By Ernesto Cullari
Once a day an active member of the military commits suicide. Before today is over 22 more Veterans: men and women, who have survived long deployments and possible combat, will die by suicide.
Like with every column I write, I try my best to understand the subject that I am writing about. I research, I read, I ponder the evidence and I draw conclusions. I’ve never found something so challenging as writing about Veterans and the mental health issues that they face.
It’s not that there isn’t enough information on the topic that makes writing about Veterans challenging, it is relating to a group of people whose experiences, thoughts and emotions can only be understood by those who have been to war. No movie, no book, no first hand account can make a deep enough of an impression upon the uninitiated so as to make us understand their thoughts, their struggles and the ongoing battle that is peacetime living.
For many Veterans peace is harder than the chaos of war. In a war you move from mission to mission from task to task –your training and instincts take over. Long after the buzz and the noise of war are gone, there is a lingering and lonely silence. Silence does not leave clues as to which direction a soldier should take or what comes next after the noise has died down.
For peacetime a soldier receives no training. War wipes away all those so-called normal instincts their old self once had. Upon returning home a hero’s life can become completely unmanageable.
“Control is something that we Americans take for granted everyday of our lives. We have control over our everyday activities. We can choose what we would like to eat, what clothes we want to wear, and we can do whatever we pretty much desire. As Americans for the most part we can control our environment. Operation Iraqi Freedom was an entity all its own. We had no control over it. We just did what we were ordered to do.” (Marine Veteran Matthew Craw author of The Song Each Bullet Sings)
During a deployment the most basic parts of life are taken out of a soldier’s hands. They have no control. As a result Veterans return home from war with the chaos of war still raging in their minds. Their marriages and relationships are strained as time lost, the onset of mental illness and unpaid bills out flank them. Too often drugs and alcohol becomes a soldier’s most comforting ally.
In his book, Marine Veteran Matthew Craw brings the reader into the mind of a US Marine, by recounting his training, his battles with the enemy, the loss and the sorrows of those he fought alongside and he ponders the lives and deaths of those he has decimated on the battle field. I can’t understand their unique plight and in many ways I am blessed by my inability, because it was their desire to save their fellow countrymen from the stains of war that led them into the armed services in the first place. I am free; we are free because they sacrificed.
The Mental Health Association of Monmouth County is currently offering two free family support groups to help veterans’ families; the Sanctuary and Safe Place programs. Each group takes place on a monthly basis. The Safe Place program is for family and friends who have lost an active duty member or veteran to the casualties of war or suicide. Please help us keep this program and other free mental health initiatives for Veterans alive by attending our fundraiser.
The Tee Off For Our Patriots Golf Classic will be held at Navesink Country Club, 50 Luffburrow Lane, Middletown, NJ, on Monday, August 11th. Registration and a buffet luncheon will begin at 11:00 AM. At 12:30pm, Tim McLoone will kickoff the event and introduce the military heroes present. MHA will ask an active duty service member or veteran to play with your foursome, if requested. To participate call Stephanie Decker 732-542-6422 X108 or click here to register online.
If you’re not a golfer and would like to contribute to MHAMC’s programs for veterans and their familes, you can do so here.Click here for reuse options!
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Posted: July 30th, 2014 | Author: admin | Filed under: Ernesto Cullari, Veterans | Tags: Ernesto Cullari, Matthew Craw, Mental Health Association of Monmouth County, MHAMC, Veterans, Veterans Mental Health | 2 Comments »