When a Soldier dies it’s sad, when a Soldier ends their own life it’s tragic.

I don’t see why.
If we ask anything of our leaders, it is to tell us the truth.
Often the truth sucks, it’s hard to live with.
We like to hide it and tell each other fairy stories of our existence.
We gladly sugar coat our problems because we feel shame or don’t want to burden each other.

If i’m your friend, if i’m your buddy. You may one day ask me to walk through hell and a hail of bullets for you.
If i refuse to leave you to the monsters that we fight.
Why do you think i will leave you to the demons that are fucking with you?

Why wouldn’t you ask those that will give all for you in hell to give all for you anywhere else.
We don’t need and invitation, just and excuse.

We as a species have been around for hundreds of thousands of years. Don’t kid yourself into believing that your sins or problems are new or not something that has been dealt with before. We as a people are so repetitive it’s silly, and you are no different.

It’s been done before, it’s been survived.
You just need a buddy and maybe a beer or seven.

Nothing is so heavy that we can not lift it. Nothing is so bad that we will leave you to be destroyed by it.
Reach out, for many of us will never, and i mean NEVER ignore such a distress call.

No man is left behind. Ever.
That mean you Airborne.
Don’t you forget it.

Major General Dana Pittard, the Commanding General of Fort Bliss Texas, says that a Soldier who commits suicide is selfish, and they aren’t acting like adults. That they are leaving a mess for everyone else to clean up. I do not agree with him. I believe the, “Soldiers are stronger than normal and do not feel human emotions,” bullshit that we have been brought up to believe is the problem. Read the article here.

This is a topic that is close to my heart. Soldiers are asked to do things that to “normal” people is unthinkable. We are asked to go into foreign lands and fight an armed enemy, sometimes we have to take another human life, other times we watch unspeakable horrors such as bodies being ripped apart by bombs, or innocent children torn to pieces by the very grown ups that should be caring for them, or the loss of what we consider our families. Often times those deaths are gruesome, bloody, and violent. We are asked to do this, and expected to feel nothing. Well it doesn’t work like that.

American Soldiers are among the most caring and feeling people on the planet. If we weren’t we wouldn’t be Soldiers, we wouldn’t care about our country or our fellow Americans, and we wouldn’t go to war for our country. And we care about fellow Soldiers, who we refer to as brother and sister. We love our fellow Soldiers, or else we would not grab our rifle and rush into gun fire right next to them. I have gone into the fire with my brothers, and I have risked my life running into an IED kill zone, being shot at by insurgents, returning fire until I could get to them and render first aid. I have been pinned down by gunfire praying to God to save me, only to look up and see my brothers running full-bore straight into the gun fire to help me. You don’t do those things unless you have a love that is greater than you.

So why is it when we come home people think we’re weak if we ask for help? I was talking to a group of 8 year olds at my nieces school, one of them asked “How many people have you killed?” It’s not the first time I was asked  that, but the first time I was asked it by a child not even old enough to remember a time we weren’t at war. My response was, “My job is not about killing, but about saving, and I can not count how many people I have saved.”  But this shows the mentality of those who are not Soldiers. For a child this young to even think about that, her parents had to say something, or her teachers, some one had to put that idea in her head, children just don’t think about killing like that, at least 8 year olds shouldn’t.  That shows that people think we are uncaring and all we do is kill, and that we don’t feel any emotions about it. Yes I have killed my enemy, and yes I had feelings about it. I felt good, yes I said good. Why did I feel good? Simple because that bastard I killed hurt people, he hurt innocent people, including children. I have no clue how many people he hurt before I killed him, but I know he never hurt anyone again.

There is a flip side to that. I have seen innocent people hurt. I saw a school I helped build explode on the day it opened, killing over 60 children. And people here ask me why I care about Iraqi children, children of people we are at war with. Why? Because they are children, they did nothing wrong, and they did not deserve to be not only dragged into the evil that men do, but to be killed to hurt their parents. And I did feel, I felt a loss that very few people felt. And people think we’re weak for feeling that loss. I ask all of you, how would you feel if you saw that? Why should we feel different?

We feel, we hurt, and we cry. We are human. So the next time you see a Soldier or a veteran do not ask how many people they killed, ask how are you doing? If you see a Soldier who seems to be hurting, love them as much as they love you and try to help them. If a Soldier feels they have no other option but to commit suicide, it is because those closest to them have let them believe that. I had a Soldier who came home early from Afghanistan, because his time in the Army was up. The first time I talked to him I knew there was a problem. As we talked he broke down and cried because he felt bad leaving his Battle Buddies in Afghanistan. He felt so bad about coming home it literally ate at him until he almost shut down. I got him the help he needed, and I believe it is every Army leaders responsibility to know their Soldiers well enough to know when there is a problem. So for this General to say these Soldiers who commit suicide are selfish is just him showing that neither he nor his subordinate leaders know their Soldiers enough to know when there is a problem. Suicide is a leadership, friend, family and society failure. It is this failure that leads that Soldier to feel there is no other option. And it needs to stop.

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2 thoughts on “When a Soldier dies it’s sad, when a Soldier ends their own life it’s tragic.

  1. I truly don’t think that any civilian has a clue as to what soldiers see, do, feel and go thru. Only people who have been thru some form of combat (this includes medical and all support staff in whatever area they are in) could understand the lingering trauma (PTSD) faced and experienced by soldiers – and here I have to include Military War Dogs who also suffer from PTSD! I also have to include civilians who are living in a war zone. For anyone to make such STUPID comments about these people has to be cold and completely out of touch with reality! The reality is that soldiers ARE suffering, they DO feel like there is no other way to end the pain. The sooner the top brass recognise this the sooner they can get genuine help. I pray that help can be found before its too late! I also pray for the families and friends who have already lost loved ones – that they will find peace and become advocates for those still suffering.

    • There are civilians that do have an understanding of what we as Soldiers go through, they are our family. Yes they may not understand what it’s like to go into a foreign land and fight for your country, but they understand the stress. And a lot of medical staff never get to see combat, but they do see the worst of what combat does. I can not praise Military working dogs enough they are amazing, they have no fear, they will go down an alley and look for bombs, and they will go into an unsecured are area, and they ask nothing more than a pat on the head and a treat. And all of that does a number on a person, and a dogs psyche.
      What upsets me the most about this story is that an Army General Officer made that comment. To me that just shows his lack of leadership ability. I as an enlisted Soldier know that suicide is not selfish, it is a lost resort, and it can be prevented, I have prevented a few of them just by knowing my Soldiers. I just wish more people would accept the responsibility that comes with leadership.

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