If you’ve ever wondered how you can help Veterans — there’s a way, and some dedicated people are doing it every day. I just ran into some a couple months ago.
I walk my dog every night and in mid-September, I was walking past a local park and saw it all lit up at ten o clock at night. There were flags planted in the ground, and chairs all set up, as if something was about to happen — but there were only two or three people milling around.
I thought it was a film crew getting ready for the next day’s shoot. There were a couple people walking on the sidewalk in front of the park, so I asked them what was going on. They said they were with a group called, Not On Our Watch.
I’d never heard of it and asked what their group did. They were taking turns walking 24 hours a day, for three days straight, so there was never a time someone wasn’t walking in honor, or in memory, of a veteran . They were doing it to bring awareness to military suicides and the difficulties veterans have reintegrating back into society after being at war.
They told me 22 veterans a day, take their own lives, once they leave the military. That’s an astounding number and there are those who dispute it. On a website called Military.com, there is a story about the numbers. The story says the 22 number was taken from a report done in 2012 and a more recent report with data from 2005 through 2015 says the actual number is 20 and that includes active duty and veterans. So, 16.8 are veterans and 3.8 are active duty who are taking their own lives every day.
But the people walking for Not on Our Watch say that any number of suicides is too many, and I agree. Clearly, something is wrong when there are these kinds of numbers. And the recent killings in Thousand Oaks California by a Marine, who murdered 12 people in a bar, re-confirm, something has to be done to help these veterans.
I don’t know that war is hell from my own experience, but my father, a man of few words, said it was, and I believe him. The fact that he wouldn’t even speak of it until he was 95 years old, and probably had forgotten the worst of it, speaks volumes. He served as a medic, and did his best to save the lives of those were in battle. I’m sure he saw things he wished he’d never seen.
Hoping to learn more about his experience, a few months ago, I watched a documentary on World War II by Ken Burns on Netflix and it was incredibly well done, showing the tragedy of war and the unbelievable human cost.
I get whiny when I have to get out of a warm, clean bed on days when I don’t feel like going to work — and these men and women, in times of war, have to eat, sleep, stay awake, and do everything outdoors, in rain, freezing snow, floods, or in suffocating heat and sandstorms, while being fired upon, or taken prisoner and tortured. I can’t even imagine what that must be like and hope I never have to.
It’s no wonder they’ll do anything to stop living that reality, leaving their families and friends heartbroken.
The brochure I got from Not On Our Watch states that their mission is to promote the optimal reintegration of veterans back into the community. They do this while honoring their service, working to strengthen the community bond and helping restore a sense of wholeness of mind, body and soul to veterans and their families.
Their website is WellnessWorks4Veterans.org and I think it’s a very important, and necessary undertaking. You can’t take months teaching people to kill, send them to kill, then just put them back into society, and expect them to do just fine. There’s an interesting article at this link: National Council on Family Relations that explains what the returning veteran can experience.
Check out the WellnessWorks4Veterans.org website, learn more about Not On Our Watch at WellnessWorks4Veterans.org, and donate, so they can continue doing this fantastic work.
Dad in the front yard saluting.
And if you know a veteran, or see a veteran (since we celebrate Veteran’s Day today) thank them. To all you veterans out there, Thank You For Your Service! I salute you, and so does my dad!