Article author Shawn Jones is a 20-year Veteran of the Air Force and Army, now retired. He has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and his Master’s degree in Social Work. He writes this article to his brothers and sisters in arms so they know there is a place to turn to, no matter what.
As we all know, this is National Suicide Prevention month, but what I am writing here is for any time you’re feeling hopeless, helpless or alone. (Or if you know a loved one who is suffering, share this with them.)
I have been a part of Stop Soldier Suicide for a little over a month as the Triage Director taking calls and cries for help. In this short time, one common phrase I hear frequently is, “I feel like I am all alone.”
I am here to tell you that is the farthest thing from the actual truth. One of the biggest misnomers for those who are suffering from the invisible wounds of war or who are contemplating suicide is that they are alone and that it is weak to ask for help. This is just your belief, it is not the reality of the situation.
We are taught in the military that selfless service is a core value. That we must focus on the issues of the overall mission and those under our charge. Oftentimes, this leaves us unable to focus on ourselves, which leads to our problems festering and growing until we feel those problems are insurmountable. All of which keeps us from seeking and receiving services that can positively affect every facet of our lives such as our career, friendships, and most importantly, relationships with loved ones.
I want to let you know that hope is always there and it is never too late to ask for help.
I know, too, that those of us who have served feel those who have never been in the military or experienced combat don’t understand–and this might be true to a certain extent. But I can tell you though that there are millions of patriotic supporters who are willing to listen to your story and aid you. They may never have experienced what you have gone through, however they can learn from you while providing some comfort and understanding of the hidden wounds that you bear.
There are also many Veteran organizations throughout our great country with active duty and Veteran staff that want to stand shoulder to shoulder with you and help you in identifying the assistance you need. These are fellow brothers and sisters in arms that have seen and been through, on some level, situations that you have experienced.
So if you see a Veteran, retiree, active duty, guard or reserve member that looks in distress go over to them and let them know that you are going to help them lace up their boot straps tight and take some of that weight off their backs from that rucksack. We are a brother/sisterhood like no other and we must stand together and help one another through the darkest of times. I speak with the experience of 20 years in the service as an enlisted man and a retiree that has provided psychotherapy, so I have been on both sides of the coin. There is always someone that you can reach out to for help.
As you are moving forward to gain insight and engage the demons that are holding you back, know that we’ve got your six.