It’s Memorial Day as I write this column and I am struck by all the posts my friends put on Facebook to honor the fallen. My experience in the military was through free ROTC classes offered at college designed to get people interested in signing up for the military. In Wilderness Survival, I “learned” how to rappel from a rock quarry, orienteer through the forest and lead a platoon using a terrain map. When my platoon reached the rendezvous point from the opposite direction, Captain Fritchley demanded I show him where we were on the map. Sheepishly I admitted I couldn’t read the terrain map.
“How do you expect me to pass you if you can’t read the map?”
“Because I was leading and they followed.”
In leadership and management training, I would beat the geeky guys in weekly challenges using examples from the real world. It took My Gun and Its Maintenance, and, not being much of a joiner, to end my ROTC career. My brother joined the Navy to change his life path and my dad, a Korean War vet, ran the Naval Reserve in Coconut Grove throughout our childhood. I loved watching him walk across the field in his uniform to pick me up from cheerleading. Working in government was my way of giving back.
Today, I ask you to remember the sacrifices made by those living with PTSD who might still be alive, but the person they were is not. According to dosomething.org, 11-20% of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD, and 30% develop mental problems within three to four months of being home. These wars gave rise to canine PTSD, a recognized combat affliction.
Let us remember, and honor, those deaths that were self-inflicted. A 2012 VA Suicide Data Report found that 22 veterans die every day by suicide. According to a 2014 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) survey, 40% of IAVA members know an Iraq or Afghanistan veteran who has died by suicide. These brave men, women and beasts deserve to be honored by a grateful nation.
Suzy Jacobs, Executive Director,
3131 Foothill Blvd. Suite D
La Crescenta, CA 91214
(818) 646-7867 • cv-alliance.org/