Shooting wooden stars

Image courtesy of marklinfinancial.com

Image courtesy of marklinfinancial.com

On a recent trip to Canada, I heard a startling fact on public radio:

349 American service members committed suicide in 2012 (to put that in perspective, that’s 54 more than were killed in Afghanistan that same year).

I was shocked. disheartened. and ashamed.

The broadcast went on to share the story of a 31-year-old Marine.  He’d been in Afghanistan.  He’d come home to four children and a wife who loved him.

And a personal hell of what he’d done and seen.

He was depressed. He reached out. He went to the VA.  He asked for help.  He was told there was a 3-week wait for inpatient care.  By the time they were ready for him…

He.

Was.

Gone.

His widow said she’s angry she’s without him, but happy…

He’s. Finally. At. Peace.

I remember the Recruiters walking the halls of my high school.  I remember their tables.  And their signs…

“Be all you can be.”

I remember friends approaching those tables and being told of benefits and opportunities and a college degree paid for through service.

I also remember getting a call from an Army Recruiter.  He was interested in my language skills (and my affinity for learning languages) and thought the Army would be the fertile soil in which to be planted.

And. in. which. to. grow.

We asked lots of questions (I take that back…my husband asked lots of questions.  I sat and quietly stared, dumbfounded by the questions, the responses and the meeting itself).

In the end, there was no way to guarantee my safety.  So, there was no way I was going to join up.

Despite the good I could have done, self-preservation kicked in.

No guarantee.

No dice.

Since then (and despite having family members who’ve served) I’ve never thought much about the military.  I mean I’m thankful for them in the quiet moments before and after my head safely hits my pillow, but I’ve never been brave enough to bring myself to a place of discomfort over their service, sacrifice, and, at times…

Suicide.

I was not born with much of a backbone.  Not the kind that willingly (and oftentimes gladly) puts you in harm’s way.

Not the kind that runs, drives or flies toward danger.

Not the kind that sees friends fall…and continues on.

Not the kind that catches a person in the crosshairs, pulls the trigger and doesn’t feel as though he’d/she’d lost a piece of himself/herself in the process.

Not the kind that carries the heaviness of such a burden.

For. a. lifetime.

There are people much better than me who have signed on that dotted line, sworn that oath, and found themselves running, driving and flying toward danger.

They risk everything so that my head and yours can safely hit our pillows.  So that we can say one more “Good morning” and “Goodnight” to those we love.

They serve.  They sacrifice.  And eventually…

God willing…

They. Come.Home.

And to what?

A broken system?

A waiting list for care?

A hope that 3 weeks won’t be a week too long?

They deserve better and we have the responsibility to demand that for them.

At least I do.

What kind of country recruits you for the type of service from which some never return and then fails to provide the necessary aid?

3 weeks to get care!!

It’s preposterous and an outrage.

It’s a disgrace to these United States, to our flag, to all those who have served and will serve.

To those whose names are etched in stone in Arlington and in cemeteries (both formal and informal) around the globe.  And whose faces are not-so-simply etched into the hearts of those who love them.

In the grand scheme of things, I am small.  Some might say insignificant.  I am smaller than the tiniest grain of sand on the tiniest beach on the tiniest island on the planet.

But those who know sand, know it only takes one, tiny granule in the right place, at the right time to make a pearl.

And that people seemingly smaller than me, have made a difference.

There are millions of posts on WordPress.

M-I-L-L-I-O-N-S

And it’s easy to fall through the cracks.

Don’t let this one.

Don’t let our service members.

Extend your hand…

Extend. your. heart.

  One thought on “Shooting wooden stars

  1. December 1, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Love this post! I am soooo with you on this one … I have an ex-fiance that made it through almost 10 years after he came home, but he couldn’t do it any longer, and he committed suicide. The buddies he held while they were dying were ingrained in his memory. And this was after the supposed counseling and rehab he went through!

    • December 1, 2013 at 9:54 pm

      Thank you for your visit and heartbreaking comment.

      I’m so sorry for your loss and for his.

  2. Chess
    December 1, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    TAPS is an organization that works to help the families and friends of military suicides and military casualties. They can be found online. It’s such an injustice that those who serve don’t receive the help they need and that their families are forgotten. Thank you so much for putting this info out there.

    • December 1, 2013 at 10:00 pm

      Thank you for sharing the TAPS information and for taking the time to read.

      Blessings.

  3. December 1, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. Truly heart-breaking. It is so hard to know what to do to help this. I am doing a service-learning project with my 11th graders, and it is to help and encourage veterans like this…we want to interview them, get their stories out, create a memorial book and a memorial garden. We aren’t doctors, but hopefully knowing they aren’t forgotten and that they are appreciated will help. A little. Thank you.

    • December 1, 2013 at 10:03 pm

      I love that you are doing this! What a wonderful project idea.

      I know that you all aren’t professionals, but sometimes it’s all about the time given and the love felt.

      Please keep me posted on this, Kate.

      Many thanks.

  4. bsanf0rd
    December 2, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Thank you, Danielle. Very emotional… Any more suggestions of what to do? I love the things posted here. Maybe something on the VA website for Christmas?

  5. Jenae G.
    December 3, 2013 at 12:02 am

    Simply…applauding the heart of your message. Well said!

    • December 3, 2013 at 3:48 am

      Thanks, J.

  6. December 5, 2013 at 4:36 am

    So Sorry about your loss!

    • December 5, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      I’m not sure what loss you’re talking about.

  7. sf
    December 16, 2013 at 5:05 am

    Good for you for posting this important message! Definitely wish I had an affinity for languages, like you do.

    • December 16, 2013 at 11:41 am

      My sincere thanks for visiting.

      Happy holidays.

  8. serialphotographer
    January 6, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    This is a very moving post and sadly so on the money. It is criminal that someone so obviously in need had to wait… the irony of course being these so called professionals are trained to see when someone presents this way in obvious need of support.

    On a separate note happy new year to you may it be filled with joy especially as you share the same DOB as me.

    • May 1, 2014 at 6:17 am

      They are, but there always seems to be a way for people and hearts to fall through the cracks.

      Horribly tragic!!

      My New Year’s was pretty enjoyable and…btw…I love that you are a fellow Scorpio (with the same DOB, no less). What year??

  9. Laura
    June 11, 2014 at 1:34 am

    good post, Dani. I feel very blessed that David has come home safely…. and that even though there are times that he struggles I feel like we came out of this thing ok. Though he told me many stories about people he knew going home to broken families. So I think sometimes it’s not only what they see when they are away but how their families change when they are gone that is tough.

    • June 18, 2014 at 3:00 am

      I agree, Laura. I’m so glad that you two are on the other side of this and hope you continue to grow into yourselves and into each other ❤

  10. June 22, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Reblogged this on Swing Vogt and commented:
    Soldiers have it rough. Most of the time their demons are the kind of dark, deep-seeded that can’t be fixed by a loving family and a steady job. They need help!

    • July 12, 2014 at 8:49 pm

      Thank you for sharing this, Jessica.

      Blessings to you,
      Dani

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