I have always taken the role of a leader within my family and peers. Doing the “right thing” has always resonated within. At an early age, I was held responsible for raising my siblings and family and even though I really wanted to, I didn’t have the opportunity to serve. My family responsibilities took priority. Although I was not in the military, I have always had a high degree of respect for our Armed Forces. It was not until crossing paths with Mr. Steven Kuryla, retired Chief Warrant Officer, U.S. Army Intelligence and hearing a first-hand account of what our soldiers do and have done for this great Nation of ours, did I really begin to understand and truly appreciate our Veterans. It is great to think about our military history and the success of our Armed Forces thru the generations. It is easy to ponder those Military triumphs, but there is a huge misunderstanding when it comes to knowing the true cost of those triumphs and dare I say ignorance on the matter when it comes to the aftermath and sacrifices our returning Veterans face when they come home. It was DEVASTATING when I learned that since 9/11 we have lost around SEVEN THOUSAND soldiers in combat, but much more DEVASTATING to learn that there have been ONE HUNDRED SIXTY THOUSAND Veterans, dead by suicide in that same time frame.
My recent interest in this matter has exposed me to reading first hand stories of the carnage and loss of life, coupled with the dire and mind-boggling fact that we do great work in teaching our young men to become Soldiers. But these soldiers are left to sort out their life when they come home with injuries, PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), compounded by the pill protocol of the Veteran's Administration. There is nothing within the military, or after they leave the military that teaches them how to “Come Home”. The military washes their hands. It's not their mission. The VA steps up to help with the medical issues. But the rest is "not their mission" either. There is nothing out there to help acclimate returning Veterans to the very society they swore an oath to protect. We do not have a systematic approach to issues such as war-induced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), nor the bigger issue of “Moral Wounding”.
Knowing what I know now, I cannot sit idle and do nothing. To do so violates my core values. We MUST do something toward mitigating this issue of Veteran Suicides and save Veteran lives. Our Veterans placed their lives on the front lines for our freedoms and fought so we could have a good life. Now it is our turn to take a hard stance and do the same in return. This is about "Giving back to those who gave so much!" I know this will be challenging, but nothing worth fighting for is ever an easy task. This is a CRISIS, an EPIDEMIC that MUST be addressed and solved!
“My Why”, my reason for getting involved comes from the deep wish in my heart to do SOMETHING in return to help our Veterans. TIER ONE TRANQUILITY BASE (TOTB) is my choice and when I heard about the program, I immediately wanted to be involved. The Mission statement and the main goal of the program is focused on saving the lives of our Veterans in a systemic, holistic way! – plain and simple! One does not have to be in the military to be involved and make a difference. I wanted to be involved in bringing a new tool set to returning Veterans so they can learn to fight the new battle of “Ft. Livingroom!” Ultimately, my GOAL is to do the RIGHT THING, save lives, and help bring the much-needed awareness this problem mandates! I feel it’s my moral duty to “step up” and do whatever I can to support our returning Veterans.
For those of you reading this, I beg of you, support in any manner possible. Donate, volunteer, get involved. There are so many aspects to this program that doesn’t take a lot of time or money. Our Veterans are well worth it! Please help give our Veterans the “American Dream” that we all strive for, and not the perpetual “American Nightmare” they have endured and lost their lives over.