How Do They Do IT? My Reflection on Veterans, Suicide, and the Syrian Quagmire

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Over the past several days, not even realizing it, something has changed within me. It’s my attitude and it sucks. I have said some hurtful things to many persons I cherish and for that I am deeply sorry. But why this sudden attitude change? Let me take a moment to ask a different question.

How do they do it?

How do veterans still living, those who fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, etc. do it? How do they sit every day and watch the news around them? How do they go on knowing their brothers of today are fighting aimless wars, and for what? How do they live knowing the current wars fought are plagued with disinformation and propaganda?

How do they do it?

These are questions I have been asking myself on an hourly basis for well over a week now. With every new report coming out of the United States, the United Nations, Syria, or wherever, I find myself getting sick to my stomach…literally.

How do they do it?

How do we veterans continue living knowing not only has our country furnished rogue nations and terrorist groups with weapons we would later be forced to fight but also weapons of mass destruction like those provided to Saddam Hussein during the 80’s? It’s a morality issue I find myself struggling with daily.

How do they do it?

For many, they don’t do it. And that is reality.

A serious epidemic is growing in America. That epidemic is suicide among veterans. According multiple reports, one veteran takes his/her life every 65 minutes. That’s an average of twenty-two per day.

Why is this statistic important?

As the United States contemplates some form of military action in Syria, veterans will be sitting in their chairs watching the news and growing with depression knowing our own brothers and sisters are being forced into harm’s way for no true national security reason which jeopardizes our own nation. We will seriously question the integrity of a nation we vowed to defend against all enemies—foreign and domestic.

Many veterans will obtain attitude changes like I have over such a decision and integrity loss. Many will be angered, saddened, outraged, depressed, etc. Many will be on edge. Many will even contemplate taking their own lives.

I am not suicidal. Angered, outraged, possibly even a bit depressed…but not suicidal.

If I have these feelings, surely I am not alone. With the possibilities of military action against Syria, veterans are going to be impacted unlike many American’s who never served a day in combat. We need to really look out for these warriors.

Starting on Sunday, September 8th through Saturday, September 14th we as a nation will endure National Suicide Prevention Week. This also may be the time we see the start of US military involvement in Syria.

During this week of suicide prevention, my brothers at Ranger UP will be posting articles on their Rhino Den blog to help support Suicide Prevention Week. This is just a heads up for what is to come and I ask all readers to constantly check in to their blog site to read what we veterans have to say about this growing epidemic.

This post is also about me and expressing my feelings of a shitty attitude. Thankfully, I would never allow myself to stoop to the point of no return. But others have, and will.

I have my own outlet to release my feelings through writing. I pray other veterans find outlets that work for them. Its critical they find ways to release their frustrations through healthy means. But I also understand some will just not find those means and lean towards the alternative.

Veterans need our support now more than ever. Be on the lookout folks. Let’s take care of our nation’s best and brightest because we face the potential of some seriously depressing times ahead of us especially if we find ourselves intervening in Syria.

Kerry Patton is the author of Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors

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Comments

  1. bill colaner says:

    Thank you.
    I hope you do it because you know that a Just God will vindicate your valor and sacrifice.
    Please stay courageous as those of us who have not done it need your example to follow.

  2. Many years ago I encountered a vet accepting donations to help other vets get clean clothes and other services. For your donation you get a flower with a metal stem to hang from your car visor. I ask him questions about his service. He told me that he had served four theaters of battle during WWII. He also stated that his unit was the first one to relieve those who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. I was so moved by his story that I pulled a 20 dollar bill from my wallet and gave it to him. His eyes started to water and thank me endlessly for my donation. I felt that he was going to drop to the floor in tears. He wanted to give me a hand full of those flowers, but I told him one would do just right. I will never forget him as long as I live. As an immigrant to this great country I am forever in debt to this vet, to yourself, Mr. Patton and all the men and women of the armed services, who take a bullet in the chest so I, my family and others can live freely and in peace. We must do more for our soldiers and it infuriates me that we do not.

  3. Little brother,I long ago decided that suicide is a permanant solution to any temporary problem. Sure I hear and read the news. Yup it ticks me off. It’s OK to be angry, pissed off, pained in the gut or even a bit depressed, but then those responses do not prepare you to work on a solution. Sort of like fear, fear is not a bad thing, it is a natural response to threat. In one of his movies John Wayne said something like this, “Courage is not lack of fear, it is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”

    The fact that we have idiots in charge is not new. It has happened for thousands of years, sometimes great cultures fall, sometimes they survive. The soldiers do their best to protect the population, not necessarily the political leaders. Politicians often do their best to separate themselves from the guard dogs, who perhaps are too crude in mannors to associate with the Nobility. Just throw them a a medal, an extra stripe or piece of brass, and send them off to another foreign land.

    Kerry my friend, we do not fight well if we expect defeat. We know that many of the people we protect have no clue what or who we are,what we do, or have done. We focus on our family and friends and saddle up anyway. When old with the grizzled gray muzzle, like the old sheep dog, we force ourselves to our feet, growl, bark and bare our teeth when we smell the coyote, wolf or even a bear. It is what we are, so it is what we do. Sometimes the guard dog can no longer get up one more time to meet the threat, he just gives up on the battle. This we can not hold against them, but rather we greave and says goodbye to another brother or sister who has fallen. Some wounds are seen, others hidden.

    Keep writing my brother, if that is your pain killer. For me, perhaps off the the range for a day, and might attach a name to some targets. Do not hold it against me if I shoot some below center of mass.

  4. sammorxman says:

    The whole world knows somthin big is gonna happen. The mid-east is a time bomb. Egypt and Syria are in hellacious turmoil. Funny that the book of Isaiah, chapters 17 and 19 seem to describe what is happening now.

  5. “….I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…” The “Constitution”, not necessarily the nation itself!
    It is imperative we remember this still today, even if we are not longer on active duty!

  6. Kerry. Incongruity will make you crazy. You can’t go against core beliefs (i.e. thou shalt not kill) even though you are doing it to survive, without having internal moral conflict. When you consciously believe what you are doing is right but subconsciously it goes against your morality, it is hard to reconcile

    There is a concept in PTSD called ‘moral injury’ where you have a certain moral compass and you have acted against it at the behest of an authority. No matter how righteous you are in the action, you have compromised your own deeply ingrained morality. The mind cannot reconcile this no matter how rational your reasons are. Until you work this out it will be a source of dis-ease.

    If that is what you are dealing with now, you are doing the right thing. Put it out where you can see it and identify it. It takes time and work, you are doing it. I have suffered PTSD for a lifetime but I understand it now so it’s manageable. When suppressed, it will fester and come out in ways that will destroy your life and impact those you love the most. Exposing it, dealing with it in the conscious mind will help to reconcile the incongruity in your subconscious. Cheers mate, it only gets better.

  7. Edmund Rochford says:

    You do it because you have to. Family and friends, brothers and sisters in arms need you. So you get out of bed and go to the job you hate, and all the other mundane things, because letting those folks down is not an option. Or maybe I just don’t hurt badly enough to seriously consider suicide. Maybe another tour in Afghanistan will change my opinion.

Trackbacks

  1. […] “How do veterans still living, those who fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, etc. do it? How do they sit every day and watch the news around them? How do they go on knowing their brothers of today are fighting aimless wars, and for what? How do they live knowing the current wars fought are plagued with disinformation and propaganda? These are questions I have been asking myself on an hourly basis for well over a week now. With every new report coming out of the United States, the United Nations, Syria, or wherever, I find myself getting sick to my stomach…literally.” Kerry Patton […]

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