By: JD Author, Reporter-Journalist

“Suicide never takes away the pain, it just gives the pain to another owner.”

22 Veterans a day are committing suicide in the United States.  That is approximately ONE veteran every 65 minutes that left a combat zone only to return to their home with a battle still raging in their minds, and coping is a war all its own.   Team Fidelis is a Kansas City based organization that has made it their mission statement:

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“To end the epidemic of veteran suicides by raising awareness, providing a bridge of hope, and building camaraderie between veterans and their community.”

 

To understand exactly what this “epidemic” is, you need to understand the soldier, the condition, and the state of mind, that leads them to the feeling of hopelessness and despair that would cause them to take from themselves their very life, their last breath, because they find no other means for inner peace.

When an individual makes the decision to sign on the dotted line, and train to become a soldier in our Armed Forces, they are aware of the possibility of having to serve in combat at the behest of the government they serve.  They sacrifice themselves, so we can cherish these freedoms.  They know some of the ramifications that may follow, but they do it out of dedication and commitment to support and defend the very Constitution and Bill of Rights our country was founded on, and still are committed.  But they do this with the understanding that the same government they’re fighting for, the same people they’re sacrificing so much for, will be there for them in return when they have completed their mission, to only find, not as much commitment is reciprocated.  The resources and tools are not always there.  They were willing to give their all, and what are we as a country giving them in return?

Our Government has promised reintegration and coping aids, counseling and therapy programs, but statistics have shown that soldiers are suffering PTSD at an alarming rate and the Veteran’s Administration is moving too slow to meet the rising demand, leaving soldiers feeling destitute and without hope.  I picture the situation as our government being the tortoise and PTSD being the hare. 

Transitioning from military life back into the civilian sector is a challenge all veterans face. Unfortunately, many veterans lack the adequate tools and resources needed to meet this challenge. The results are an alarmingly high rate of veteran suicide, depression, divorce, homelessness, and substance abuse.

So like many other organizations there are across America, Team Fidelis, founded by a veteran, is taking action to raise awareness of the rising suicide rate among his comrades in the community.

We hear a lot of people talk about PTSD, but what do we really know about it?  Everyone is affected in different ways, and not all of the soldiers who have served in our military suffer from PTSD.  There are many levels of PTSD and many different signs and symptoms associated with it.  It is not a 100% predictable situation, and by no means does it make a person any less a human being than a doctor, lawyer, shopkeeper or other individual who never served their country.  They are people who were willing to sacrifice their lives, and although they returned home from combat breathing and with a pulse, they returned with a bleeding soul, a wounded mind.  They need a community who’s willing to reach out with a caring hand and give them the sense of peace in return for protecting them.

On September 3, 2016 I attended A 22K with Team Fidelis, and was blessed to mingle with some of the most wonderful veterans, their families and supporters.  Their mission for the day was a 22K march across the metro, moving from one veteran’s memorial to another, raising awareness of the suicide rate among veterans.  Being from a family of many veterans, I felt honored in taking part, even though I didn’t walk with them, but provided other assistance and support for those who did. img_3812

Donned in their custom made shirts, proudly carrying our American flag as well as the flags of military service branches, Team Fidelis walked many miles up and down hills, proudly, loudly and with one goal in mind.  To wake people up!   team-pic

 

Sharing is Caring.  Share awareness of this growing epidemic.  Educate yourself to the signs and symptoms of PTSD.  Get involved with volunteer groups within your community and lean what you can do to help veterans and make a change.  Drop a dollar or two in donations to a veterans group.  Give of your time.  What you should not do is turn a blind eye, or think to yourself, well Someone else will, so I don’t have to.  Because the soldiers who fought for your freedoms and continue to fight for them, whether on the battlefield or at home, didn’t pick and choose who they would include or forego, so why should you? 

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Believe me, I know how apprehensive people are to take the time.  I can list about 5 of my very close personal friends that are so selfish and absorbed, I can’t even get them to “Like” or donate to anything I endorse on social media on behalf of veterans coping with PTSD and suicide prevention.  Since they have never served, or PTSD doesn’t directly involve them or affect their wealth, they sit on their self-righteous butts, and enjoy the freedoms paid for, and accept it as entitlement then walk away.  Don’t be afraid to volunteer, to care. 

 If you cannot find a volunteer group in your area, consider Team Fidelis.  They are a 100% volunteer organization, with all of their proceeds going to help raise awareness, and veterans.

 More information about Team Fidelis can be found on their website here: TEAM FIDELIS.ORG or call 816-301-4140.

 

 

 

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