Roy Exum: Thanks For Your Service

Wednesday, June 23, 2021 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

As we approach the 20th year since the 9/11 attacks, it may interest you to know 7,057 members of our Armed Forces have been killed in combat-related death. What should be of equal mourning is four times that number – 30,177 to be precise – of our military veterans have died from self-inflicted causes. That’s right, the suicide numbers are higher than they are for the general population, and this comes as the nation’s mental health efforts are in a huge crisis.

A report just released by Brown University’s ‘’Costs of War Project” includes victims on active duty, as well as reserves troops, and the report is clear “the increasing rates of suicide for both veterans and active-duty personnel are outpacing those of the general population - an alarming shift, as suicide rates among service members have historically been lower than suicide rates among the general population.

 

Officials said, “These high suicide rates are caused by multiple factors, including risks inherent to fighting in any war such as high exposure to trauma, stress, military culture and training, continued access to guns, and the difficulty of reintegrating into civilian life.

“But the study finds that there are factors unique to the post-9/11 era, including a huge increase in exposure to improvised explosive devices (IEDs), an attendant rise in traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and modern medical advances that have allowed service members to survive these and other physical traumas and return to the frontlines in multiple deployments. The combination of multiple traumatic exposures, chronic pain, and lasting physical wounds is linked to suicidal behaviors.”

There is also another huge factor. According to Thomas ‘Ben’ Suitt III who authored the report, sometimes “Thank you for your service” doesn’t quite overcome the public’s “indifference.” He says, “For veterans to come home to an uncaring population or to an uncaring public must be devastating.”

A spokesperson for the Defense Department said, “Every death by suicide is a tragedy … Our service members are not immune to trends that occur in society. Two of the biggest at-risk groups are males and younger people, and the military is heavily comprised of young males.”

Terrence Hayes, a press secretary for the Veterans Administration, says the VA "is fully committed to the challenging and heartbreaking issue. We are actively seeking solutions and innovative ways to reduce suicide and deliver expedient care to those in need.”

But the report’s author Suitt urges public support and encouragement. “The public really needs to care. They really, really should.”

* * *

JUST STOP. TAKE A DEEP BREATH. AND DIAL 1-800-273-8255

That’s the National Suicide Prevention hotline and it is a confidential dedicated telephone line for any and everybody. Don’t worry … a trained individual will answer … not tape recording or “press one” or “the first available agent will call you back.” A live voice is ready to talk with you right now. Any age, any race, any ‘everything’ because your life is your most precious gift.

I know … it is hard to ask for help when you need it the most, but do you realize is a marvelous act to take an outstretched hand. You ‘bless’ a person by allowing them to help you stay afloat, no matter the big waves.

There is a great website, “SpeakingOfSuicide.com” that you can visit very privately and see for yourself that not one person is going to judge you, pressure you or hurt you in any way. You say you’re just 12 years old – they could care less – or that the chronic pain is tearing you apart. These professionals know what to do and they can get help in a hurry.

No, it doesn’t cost a penny because thousands of great people, many who have been where you are right now, have banded together to – quite frankly – save your life. You matter. Yes, if you doubt your worth as a human being, just dial 1-800-273-8255. The first person you contact will immediately care about you .. get you somewhere safe and warm and they’ll go from there.

Jacked up on drugs as you read this? Running from the police? Not matter the scenario, the National Suicide Prevention Hotlines want you to live, regardless of what monsters and demons and the devil himself want to help you write the last chapter of a life. Be honest, at this point of “rock bottom,” your life is not yet been fully lived. Let’s live it.

Call the number 1-800-273-8255. God’s speed.

ryexum@aol.com


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