My shrugging over soldier suicides stops today

Call it serendipity, randomness, fate or even awareness. One day you are shamefully unaware of crucial social issues and then you get blasted with recognition in two successive days. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome demanded my attention last week.

On Wednesday I talked to a remarkable Vietnam War veteran. I have known him casually for some time but my admiration for him grew exponentially as we talked about his traumas of war and the havoc it raised with his life for 40 years. Now he is happily married and he works with veterans groups and connects people who can help each other. Without hesitation I can describe him as a genuine force in his community.

I immediately thought of a dramatic story I recently read for a contest about PTSD. That story prompted me to think about the plight of our war veterans for the first time in a long time. Then my friend came along forcing me to think about our society’s neglect — a neglect that is leading directly to suicides by these tortured souls.

My empathy and frustration heightened Thursday morning when a friend shared this video with me.  I will bet a box of your favorite chocolates you can’t watch this beautiful song and the accompanying pictures without being profoundly moved. The song portrayed in the video is decidedly unpolitical. A Canadian wrote the song but it could easily apply to any country. The song’s author J.P. Cormier says he wrote the song in 10 minutes which, considering its quality, is tremendously difficult to grasp.

I have no idea why images of emotionally wounded veterans are penetrating my consciousness recently. Maybe I am a better listener since I have watched my beloved wife die. Perhaps there is something I am supposed to do to raise awareness. Maybe it’s writing this blog post.

All I am certain of is throughout most of my life we have sent people to do a horrible task in far away lands. When they come back so broken then take their own lives at alarming and record-setting rates most of us just shrug as if it’s no big deal.

My shrugging stops today. I am not sure just yet what I am going to do but you can mark me down as somebody who dearly wants to save soldiers from suicide. Let’s figure it out.