Why Veterans Get Lost After They Exit Service – What WE Can Do About It

first published on April 2, 2017 by

Somewhere walking amongst you there are some very troubled individuals; they are caught in a downward spiral, and we have failed them. There are too many warriors that struggle or never adapt to life after they go from active duty to civilian. Some of this is the disbelief that we are now past tense, its true; it’s not right but it’s true, there is just something within us that won’t let go of what we were. Some of us lack an outlet; something to distract us, something that will hopefully someday, ease our mental burden. Most of all I think we really lack the tribe, our family. The fault sits with us. There is no excuse for our failure as a nation to rally to their aid like we do with so many other issues. Think of any natural disaster and compare that rally cry to the whimper that takes place for our national disaster of veterans whose lives are in shambles.

The terrible and jagged road that some veterans end up walking is littered with bad decisions, bad advice, and broken promises. Their community left some of these veterans behind, both civilian and military. Some unfortunately convince themselves that they are beyond help; or worse yet are convinced of it by others, and that death is the only release. To be honest death is the easy answer. Death may not be the easy answer for those of us who are left behind, but to those men with minds full of horror, Pain, and regret, maybe death is the only answer they see. Why do so many veterans turn to suicide for an answer? Is it possible that we aren’t doing enough?

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This is not an anomaly; we all know this is true. Those of us paying any attention know that we’re bombarded constantly with the news of another brother lost to his demons. It is a crying shame; we are so focused on nonsense that we can’t see REAL people who risked their lives for us. They are struggling, they are dying, and worst of all they are overlooked and quickly forgotten. We look out of the corner of our eye and think “it can’t be that bad”, and to be honest we really don’t care. They struggle and they die, and we move on as quickly as possible. We should be ashamed; we are more concerned with Trump’s latest tweet than the lives of people who offered theirs in exchange for ours voluntarily. Chew on that for a minute before you continue reading, think about all of the issues that get more credence and coverage than the welfare of the individuals who offered their lives in lieu of ours.

As veterans we offered a selfless act to a selfish society; a society that can’t be bothered to offer any real help. I am not saying that veterans “deserve” anything for volunteering; I mean after all it was voluntary right? Veterans should appreciate what they have instead of demanding more. However the help that is offered should be worthwhile. Veterans feel an incredible amount of resentment towards the civilian populace when we watch so much money get wasted on nonsense instead of fixing our broken healthcare system. It is terrible that when veterans are told “people care” what we end up thinking is that you only care enough to poorly staff a hospital. We don’t really care if you die in the waiting room or if they medicate you out of existence. It’s kind of like someone offering you water and then saying they pissed in it, but don’t complain because they didn’t have to give it to you. If this hurts your feeling its because you know its true, have you looked at the news lately? More people care about illegal immigrant’s nonexistent rights than about whether or not our struggling veterans are getting effective help. We feel like the American people care about us just a little bit less than everyone else; no wonder why we’re not connecting well.

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The internal drive that is cultivated within us while in the military will end up pushing us somewhere; the unfortunate truth is that for many it is somewhere we shouldn’t go. As with anything else there will be varying degrees of despair. A majority of us follow this path: we leave the military and party, we start school or work and begin to miss the military lifestyle. We become overwhelmed or depressed and start to drink more, pride prompts us pull our heads out of our ass’s. We work more and drink less, and begin to find some sort of peace. We are pushed along by that internal drive and we work it out, that’s what we do. This post is not about the majority though; there are those unfortunately whose path never corrects, they get engulfed by shame, fear, resentment, and in some cases self-pity. Driven ever downward by the very force the drives the majority of us upwards, in many cases our treatment of these veterans robs them of the ability and desire to correct their course.

This nation has become a society of victims and it is starting to trickle down to the veteran community. This is not to say that there haven’t always been some people willing to take an unearned freebee, but we are actively nurturing the “poor me” mentality. So now we have veterans whose minds are weakened by alcohol, drugs, and confusion. We let them come to the conclusion that they have been the victims of some greater plot, forgetting that they volunteered. We strip them of their honor, hand them pills and a tissue, and tell them to keep crying. We tell them that no one could possibly understand what they are feeling, that no one else hurts like them. We give them bad advice and follow it up with false promises, and then we ask them why they are unhappy, we go full circle. We give them a pat on the back, hand them a bottle of pills, give them another mental health evaluation, and then another pat on the back. All the while we are also funding their addictions.

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Alcohol just feels good. It reminds us of good times, helps us forget bad times, helps us think that things are different, convinces us of things that aren’t true, and vice versa.  To most alcohol is the perfect fuel for any fire, and you know that we love watching things burn. Add in the way that the VA is methodically medicating us out of existence, like they are on some veteran genocide mission, and you have a recipe for disaster. It is horrifying to think that a medical professional would continue to over prescribe medication to veterans with the knowledge that they are alcoholics, yet it happens everyday. You can’t just tell a veteran to quit drinking even if it is for their own good; giving them a drive and a purpose will help curb the drinking. Most may never completely give it up, for many of us it is a part of the culture. The point is that idle minds and idle hands are never far from trouble, don’t give ultimatums; instead give options. Offer something interesting or exciting, we can pour ourselves out of the bottle at any time; all we are looking for is a reason to do so. There are many amazing programs out there that are effective because they provide just that, a desire and purpose again. Yet no one will talk about them, can you name one? I didn’t think so, failed again.

The unfortunate truth in all of this is that we have a small segment of the veteran community that is beyond repair and it is our fault, this one is on us. The blame falls on both sides of the coin, all of us are all too willing to look past the horror before our eyes. There are some veterans that genuinely need help, the veteran community is quick to assume they are faking or are just soft, and civilians assume that the VA is taking good care of them. Meanwhile these veterans are chugging Jack Daniels and shot gunning buckshot. We have lost their confidence through our own ignorance, they no longer want our help, we can’t be trusted, and maybe they are right. They are the lost and lonely warriors, believing that they are without comrade or family, and they have watched the candles lighting the way get blown out one at a time before their very eyes.

Written By: Trevor

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