It’s Memorial Day 2017 here in the United States and for some people it means a three-day weekend of family barbecues or camping trips, for many of us it means something entirely different. I work with a great deal of people who have served in combat roles in locations all around the globe and for them it’s to remember men and women who were lost in the line of duty. That was the original intention around the creation of the federal holiday that so many people enjoy. I was fortunate in my nearly 10 year career to never have lost a fellow Airman in a combat role, for that I consider myself lucky. I did have a friend and fellow Civil Engineer who was wounded in the 1996 Khobar Towers terrorist attack at Dharhan Air Base, while he was deployed to Saudi Arabia. That’s about as close as I ever got on a personal level to knowing anyone ever to be killed in the line of duty.
This year I chose Memorial Day to finally come to grips with something that is equally as difficult to process that has had an impact on my life and that is Veteran Suicide. The topic is one that gets a lot of press coverage with an estimated twenty-two Veterans a day committing suicide. I do want to say that the staff at the Veterans Administration and other outlets that track these statistics will admit that number is actually substantially lower than the actual number of suicides. Dealing with Veteran Suicide is a tough subject and especially tough around Memorial Day. On a day that we are supposed to be honoring our men and women that paid the ultimately sacrifice in the line of duty, how do we honor and remember those that died at their own hands ?
Why Now ?