In the old days, which seem so long ago but, in reality, were not, I was one of the few veterans who possessed the intestinal fortitude to publicly question the “22 per day” veteran suicide statistic. I researched it, found better statistics, discussed them, wrote about it, and I called into question the various “awareness” programs that emerged to fight the epidemic. I even stopped writing for a very popular online veterans website because of their constant overuse of the meme.
Do you know what it got me?
With the exception of a few intelligent and thoughtful veterans, I was shunned. The work I do here on this website, as well as my books, which many (arguably) consider brilliant, if not at least humorous, didn’t make the rounds throughout the community and wasn’t highlighted by high profile veterans and veteran organizations. Drivel was, however. Pathetic and ridiculously bad work by others were promoted and received millions of hits, but not mine. Shameless attempts to profit from the suicide rate were pushed out and given special treatment. Hell, a few jackasses even tried to make movies about it. These were jackasses who were themselves veterans, which makes it even more egregious.
You won’t find me listed among those “support our veteran authors” posts and will never see this website listed among the “veteran owned and operated” organizations. I don’t have powerful friends ensuring my written works get as much exposure as possible and you surely aren’t going to see one of my articles picked up by any national publication. After spending much of my adult life in the service of this nation, I am not “One of the guys.” I’m not on any party invite list either. I’m a dissenter and a shill for something or other, depending on the day of the week. All because I want people to tell the truth. I refuse to play the game and I will not sell my integrity.
Strangely, it seems to be the Army Special Forces veterans who are figuring it out first. Maybe it isn’t so strange, considering they are usually pretty smart guys. Weird, but smart. Just about every Green Beret to whom I’ve spoken feels the same way I do and disagrees with the inexcusable mathematics of the whole thing. They all speak to a wider audience than yours truly so I hope they are successful in convincing people to listen. I’ve seen a lot of websites spitting out articles recently, questioning the statistics. It is an encouraging sign. My friend, Loren Schofield, has recently ruffled feathers from his own blog, NOTASEAL, and shares my feelings on the matter.
It is time we question the narrative and discover the real motivations. It serves only to further stigmatize our veterans, cloud the realities of dealing with Post Traumatic Stress, and, unbelievably, excuse suicide and promote the act as some sort of viable option for people who believe they are beyond help. It may be a generational thing. Music today, especially the bad, imitation metal garbage popular with teenage girls, and that horrid Emo culture, constantly talks about suicide and how life is unliveable. It’s pathetic. We are churning out generations of people so pathetically weak they can’t even tolerate going to middle school. This weakness has to permeate the same generation of military personnel; the military being a microcosm of our society as a whole.
My cry to the misguided is always, “JUST STOP!” We, as veterans, and as a community, need to do just that.