10 f_cking years.
The images floating through my news stream were surreal yesterday. It was full of dusty pics from disposable cameras depicting steely eyed killers ready to cross the berm in hulking tanks and personnel carriers. At that moment in time we did not know how simple life was, nor how complicated it was about to become, for us.
I remember wandering around Camp Casey still wondering what the future would bring. I joined OIF I in August as a replacement. Like a jackass, I reasoned if I didn’t get into this fight quick, it would be over before it began and <gasp> my fiancé would have a combat patch and I <gulp> would not have combat “experience”.
Some days I wish I could reach back through time and slap myself.
That idea, which was fairly common, is one that is worthy of 10 slaps.
Here I am today, still a jackass, but hopefully in the right ways. I am a little wiser, but more so, humbled by those experiences. At this point, I would not trade my experiences for anything. The perspective I now hold as a Veteran is invaluable. It grounds me from the rash decisions, yet stokes the fire to challenge my limits and live life more completely.
I have said this before, but not long ago I would have traded for ten minutes of reprieve from my thoughts and nightmares. It was on the fringe of being unbearable. But I had help. I had support. I still have the help and support.
Since I wrote my last post one hundred and ninety eight Veterans will have taken their life. Ten years on and we are killing ourselves at a faster rate than we died in combat.
I stare at that number and it is staggering.
There are so many great organizations that are helping. IAVA is storming Capitol Hill. Team RWB is joining with Team Rubicon to raise awareness.
How are we not connecting these dots? How are we not stemming this tide?
Here is our multiplication table.
One Month: 270 – Two Infantry Companies
Three Months: 810 – A Battalion
Six Months: 1,620 – 1/10th the population of Babylon, New York
One Year: 3,240 – 50% more than the sum of the next four graduating classes of Linenhurst Senior High School.
I aim to fight this. The suicides have touched my life too much already. So my continued action, besides this blog, is to participate in a 5k walk to raise awareness.
Can you take a walk with me?
9 more tomorrow…