Parents and Loved Ones carry the Scar but never learn how to treat the Wound
As a retired U.S. Marine, there are few things that truly makes me wish to grab certain people and shake them until an apple falls out except when I read that I have lost another brother simply because some loud-mouth politician decided to start a war that they did not have to fight in. It makes things even more frustrating when those who saber-rattle are also those who can make the changes to correct these suicides but refuse. I assume that they believe having “yes men and women” on their payroll allows them the conscientious to sleep at night because those yes men and women are former military and tells them exactly what they wish to hear. I guess my frustration is even more aimed at myself because even after writing a book on how to handle this, it still appears not enough and the more that I attempt to do the less it seems to matter. That was before I read this article titled “Suicide Claims 14th Marine From a Unit Battered by Loss” written by Dave Philipps for the New York Times which now proves me the proof I need to re-start my unyielding fight for those who served before me, those who served with me and those who serve after me.
The article reports that “Tyler Schlagel slipped out of his parents’ house while they were asleep three weeks ago and drove through the wintry darkness to his favorite fishing lake high in the Rockies. Mr. Schlagel, a 29-year-old former Marine corporal who was stocking shelves at a sporting goods store, carried with him the eight journals he had filled during tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also carried a .40-caliber pistol. Under the bright mountain stars, he kindled a small campfire. When the flames grew high, he threw the journals into the fire, and then shot himself in the head. Mr. Schlagel’s death Dec. 9 was the 14th suicide in his military unit — the Second Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment — since the group returned from a bloody tour in Afghanistan in 2008. Many other members have attempted suicide, one just three days after Mr. Schlagel’s death. After a New York Times report in September about the suicides underscored shortcomings in the government’s ability to monitor and treat mental health problems among veterans, members of Congress called for the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs to address the issue. But those efforts have remained halting and incomplete, critics say. A big part of the problem is that the veterans of the unit, like hundreds of thousands of other young veterans, fall between the cracks of the two enormous institutions. The military’s authority stops when troops leave active duty. The V.A.’s starts only if veterans come in for benefits or medical care — and many do not seek that care.
There is one part of this article that proves to me that establishing the Military Occupational Skills Conversion Institute or MOSCI was a good idea. It says that the years spent in practical application of a field of study are just as important as years spend sitting in some classroom listening to the pontifications of a professor. That the entry to meaningful jobs restores our dignity and gives us more to consider than just existing. It says that throwing money at us is not and never will be the answer because we should never regret serving. It says that we have our pride of country and of self and instead of living off anyone; we prefer to live off ourselves. It says that we are true men and women who elect to provide and protect our families with the same veracity that we served and protected this country. That statement was “Mr. Schlagel, a 29-year-old former Marine corporal who was stocking shelves at a sporting goods store”. We were useful to you on the battle field but are now useless to you when we return.