Today, Memorial Day, we remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to protect us and our freedoms. It is more than just a simple holiday in which we get an extra day off work. It’s far more than the unofficial start of summer. Memorial day should serve as a somber reminder that our freedom is most decidedly not free. It takes work and far too often sacrifice.
Not only should we remember those soldiers of the past, but those of today. We should also take a moment to acknowledge those who did not lose their life in battle, but lost the fight with mental illness after they have returned home to safety. Mental illness is rampant in veterans, and we need to do what we can to protect them as well. It is not something to be ashamed of, but it is something we need to work on eliminating. All too often, our soldiers come home after the horrors of war and are expected to begin a civilian life again. That transition can be incredibly hard for many. We as a society, who have benefited from a soldiers service, should stand up and ensure that their mental health needs are met along with their physical needs.
Instead of simply remembering those who have given their life for this country, we should ensure that we are doing everything in our power to reduce deaths. We need to search for peaceful resolutions to avoid war. We need to make sure our soldiers have the right tools in the field. And of course we need to be sure to provide the support when they return home.
So today, take a moment to remember those who lost their life making our country safer. If you know a veteran that is struggling with mental health, let them know they are not alone and that there is help available. We can’t stop every death during war and conflict, but we should do everything we can to stop the lose of life associated with the mental health of our heros.