By Kim Swindell Wood | May 17, 2018 1:16 pm
This column is written by Hansel Moore, commander of the American Legion Post 207, in Spencer, Tennessee. It is to inform veterans and community members of news and events related the veterans in Van Buren County.
The number 22 was the number of my wall locker in basic training over 25 years ago. I am not sure why I remember such strange things, but it may be the fact that the double deuce seemed to follow me throughout the years. It kind of became my “lucky” number, and I will admit it was always one of number sets whenever I played the lottery (which wasn’t very often) . These days, however, 22 means something totally different for me. It is a symbol of a tragedy that I want to help eradicate. An average of 22 veterans, per day, make the decision that the pressures of this world are too much to bear. Sadly, this represents the ones who choose to end physical and emotional pain by ending their life.
As a veteran and a registered nurse, I have worked with hundreds of veterans throughout my career. I have seen the mental torment that many face on a daily basis as they struggle to deal with their military experience. Young soldiers go through extensive training to prepare for the logistics of warfare, but the reality of the battlefield can never be fully anticipated. The sounds, sights, and even smells related to combat can be easily triggered by familiar sounds of civilian life.
Since American soldiers first fought under the stars and stripes, the individual who returns from battle is most likely not the same individual who bid his/her family farewell months before. As soldiers attempt to transition to civilian life, personal interactions with friends and family are often difficult. A full night’s rest is most likely a luxury of the past. Physical fatigue and irritability can be a hindrance to being effective in the civilian workplace and can lead to financial difficulties. Physical injuries are often a legacy through chronic pain, which can lead to addictive situations or debilitating conditions.
Forfeiture of the life once lived and loss of familiarity and comfort can lead to a deficiency of hope and purpose. If there is one thing that every veteran needs, it is a purpose or mission. Without a reason to rise and get out of bed in the morning, many veterans spiral into a depressive abyss, as their reality is warped by a feelings of guilt an worthlessness. These feeling are amplified as these former warriors of strength and ability succumb to physical limitations of the aging process.
Without the sacrifices that these individuals made and the experiences that they endured, we would not be able to enjoy many of the freedoms that we so readily take for granted. We do owe these veterans our gratitude and let them know how much they are appreciated. Take a moment and thank them whenever you have the opportunity.
Last weekend, Highland CrossFit called together a number of friends to participate in the third annual WOD (workout of the day) veterans suicide prevention fundraiser. The American Legion, VFW, and Veterans Administration were present to provide information and outreach to those attending. The JROTC from Warren County High School presented the American flag with military precision, as the National Anthem was eloquently performed. Then, the real test, as persons from a variety of backgrounds and physical abilities took on physical challenges that pressed the limit.
It was a day with a purpose to raise money for activeheroes.org, which is an organization that works diligently to end veteran suicide and make a difference. On that day, our local community raised over $3,500 to add to the cause. This is an ongoing daily mission, and, if you would like to add to the local impact, please contact John Upchurch, at Highland Rim CrossFit, at (615) 592-6647, highlandrimcrossfit.com, or contact activeheroes.org. Thanks to all who participated.