Two nights ago I got a text no one wants to get.
“Hey man, XXXX is dead!”
“Whoa, what happened?”
“I don’t know but you know I’ve been working with him for a long time and I went to his Facebook and there are lots of RIP, ‘Sorry you’re gone’ messages.”
Turns out the young combat veteran, who has struggled with his transition from the day he stepped back in the USA, had overdosed.
The outpouring of love, respect and camaraderie being posted on his Facebook page is heart-warming.
And too late.
I can’t help but believe that if his brothers-in-arms had stayed in contact with him after discharge – and I don’t mean sharing videos of getting shot at while getting wasted together on the phone in contact – I mean let’s figure out how to work through our transitions together, because despite all the government programs, the companies spouting jobs for veterans, despite all that the most powerful influence in a veteran’s life is that of the men and women with whom he bled.
I watched this young veteran reject the assistance of nearly every person in his life. He lost his wife and young child to divorce. He failed to get employment. He carried massive emotions, memories and guilt – and shouldered it alone and when it became too much to bear, he got high.
Just a couple weeks ago he told a GallantFew volunteer: “If it weren’t for you in my life I’d be dead”.
Then he overdosed.
They developed a relationship because both were combat veterans – but they didn’t deploy together. The GallantFew volunteer couldn’t really, truly challenge this young man because they weren’t in the shit together.
I don’t believe he did it intentionally, but he might have subconsciously. Someone from his squad or platoon might have been able to kick his ass just enough to get him to get sober – to get help. Or maybe not. But we won’t know now.
But we will have some nice, heart-warming posts on Facebook.
Reach out, and reach out now.
Find that Ranger buddy, Battle buddy, the person who had your back while they had yours. Tell them you love them. Tell them you respect them. Tell them your transition was harder than you ever imagined it would be – then tell them you need them.
Watch the Spartan Pledge here. Get your Battle to watch it too. Take the pledge.
Stay alive – both of you.
Post pictures of the camping trips you’ll take together, the movies you’ll see, the grandkids you’ll have… not Rest in Peace, brother.