A rucks perspective
A rucks perspective…
It was a warm morning on June 30th. A few dozen of us had gathered to pay homage to our fallen brethren, those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We also wanted to recognize the 22 veterans who take their own lives every day.
We had gathered at Coldwell Banker out on 377, preparing to hike all the way across town. We had our packs ready, and were prepared to go when finally, the ambulance from the VFW showed up, carrying some people who had met up at the wrong place.
Finally we were off, on our way to the VFW. Many of us were strangers to one another, but we were united in our ambition to hike 22 kilometers. Our packs strapped on we were off.
As we hiked, Tolar VFD followed behind us, ensuring our safety. Many passers-by honked and waved, I even caught one holding his camera up to video our entire group as he drove by. Normally, I would be against driving and using your phone, but this was special. This was brothers united to serve a greater purpose.
I, myself, met numerous people, from the several branches of our armed forces. I even had the honor of meeting several gold star families, those who had loved ones who paid the ultimate sacrifice. None of them seemed distraught. One man, Mick Stephens, and I met and became good friends. His son, Riley, had served in Afghanistan when he gave his life.
Mick and I shared stories, and he was more than happy to tell me stories of his and Riley’s times together. All of the stories we shared were of good times when together or in service, and he did not shed a tear. It was wonderful seeing the smile on his face remembering his son.
He said that if he were here today, Riley would be marching right along side us, when another man replied, “he is, Mick.” It actually made me forget all about the physical pain I was feeling, as most of us were tired and sore, but we pushed and finally made it to the end.
A rucks perspective.. Suicide Awareness
The cause for our ruck march was not lost. This writer has lost friends from my time in service to suicide. You probably can’t come across a veteran who hasn’t lost someone to suicide. Though, we may mourn the loss of our brothers to such a heinous means, we will not let their departure be a low point for ourselves. We remember the good times.
Veteran suicide is a real issue, and in some cases a preventable one. There are measures in place to try and help when someone feels like there is nowhere else to turn. We can’t expect that everyone with problems is going to actively seek out help, sometimes it takes recognition.
It’s not only combat veterans, but all who serve. The mental anguish from the culture shock alone can be damaging.
Here is a ray of hope. There are organizations like the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) who advocate strongly and push for legislation to provide better services for veterans. There is the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) who push for better compensation and act as a networking system for those of us who have some sort of disability related to our time in service. Several other organizations dedicate their time and resources to prevent veteran suicides Such as 22Kill and BattleForge Nation, who has QFRs in every state.
These veteran organizations have a strong presences and are a great means of support and networking to others who suffer from their time in service. If you or someone you know is a veteran in need or you feel you have no place to turn, please, give one of these organizations a call, or you can stop by a VFW Post, we have people who can help you.
If you want to thank a veteran or service member, don’t just say, “thank you for your service,” donate to organizations dedicated to helping those in need. I, personally, advocate the VFW, DAV and NMCRS (Navy Marine Corps Relief Society), an organization that provides sailors and marines with help budgeting, offering no interest loans to help out those sailors and Marines, and can provide information on support groups.
Even if you can’t afford a monetary contribution, time is just as valuable a gift.”
Forrest Dale “Terry” Commander, III
FC3(SW), USN, Veteran
Adjutant, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7835