True Surrender is the story of Aaron Bricewick, an Army officer who returns from duty in Afghanistan with one less leg and struggling with PTSD. Although he is forced to confront lots of scary things (including himself), he ultimately triumphs over his struggles.
True Surrender has a happy ending.
In real life, however, all too often the ending is not happy. A recent Newsweek article says that 18 veterans kill themselves every day. Every day! In fact, “the number of U.S. soldiers who have died by their own hand is now estimated to be greater than the number (6460) who have died in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
To me, public support for soldiers seems high. There are numerous programs, non-profits, etc dedicated to veterans’ well-being. I’ve “fanned” many of them on Facebook (fan me to connect to them).
There are sites like Make the Connection (a program of the VA) and Army Strong Stories that show real veterans talking about real problems and where and how to find help (and emphasizing that it’s not a weakness to need help). There are organizations dedicated to military spouses, and family program like Fisher House.
I know from being a biker chick that there are numerous patriotic rides and organizations like Tribute to the Troops and Patriot Guard.
XSports4Vets and other “extreme sport” organizations combine high-adrenalin activities with the camaraderie of brothers in arms. (President Bush took part in a veterans dirt bike event.) There’s even a farm in TX just for vets.
Medical advances have given veterans who would have been sidelined for life new legs, arms and more. Alternative therapies have cropped up, along with creative arts-type programs to help veterans process their experiences (for example, making films or writing).
So why are returning soldiers having such a hard time? Why do they continue to feel as though nobody understands them? Why are they surviving the intense trauma of battle only to commit suicide once back in the civilian world? Is it the longer deployments? Is it a different way of fighting? Or are these programs only reaching a small percentage of them?
It just feels like it doesn’t have to be this way…