For my fellow Warriors who are out there going through a rough patch please know that we are here, all you have to do is reach out.
A little bit about me:
I am a Marine Master Sergeant retired. I was blown up in Iraq in 2003 when a Rocket Propelled Grenade exploded near me killing 3 and wounding 7. I actually died, left my body, and as I was being leaving the earth I looked out over the stratosphere (about 36,000 ft up) I heard one of my Marines start screaming in sheer pain & agony. In what I can only describe as something I have never heard before that day and something O hope never to hear again. In that scream I could hear his fear, anger, pain, & helplessness and it was at that moment that I began to argue and demand that I be allowed to come back to life and the living. Each time I would get a little louder and a bit more incessant urging my Guardian Angel to let me come back as repeatedly demanded, “I CANT LEAVE HIM, I HAVE TO GO BACK” until I felt myself lowering back down to earth, ultimately entering my body again. I was listed as Very Seriously Injured (VSI) (life is imminent danger, expected to die within 24hrs) and although there is much more I could say about my experience but I will sum it all up with this;
…I believe I was given a second lease on life so that I could stand up for and with my Brothers-in-Arms, to “Be a Voice for the Voiceless” and to work with them through Professional Life Coaching and bio-pyscho-social interventions that will “Provide Hope” with plans for good and not dispair with a future that is limitless.
As a Wounded Veteran with a fused spine and multiple injuries in addition to PTSD & TBI I fight not for myself but for my fellow warriors and their families and this is why I have began to blog about our os
A study of veterans with PTSD published August 2009 by the Journal of Traumatic Stress found that 47 percent had suicidal thoughts before seeking treatment and 3 percent had attempted to kill themselves.
The current STATE of AFFAIRS of the lives and welfare of those Wounded Veterans, Caregivers & Families who have left Active Duty and are struggling without the adequate resources they need for the current battle they are fighting with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Transitioning. Although the war overseas is slowing down, the one right here at home to combat the effects that PTSD and TBI are having amongst our transitioining warriors is growing.
22/4/90… to many these numbers mean nothing… but to those who have born the burden of battle, returned home, and for their loved ones these numbers present a stark reality that majority of Americans never hear about. These #’s represent my LIFE and a reason to celebrate every day I am alive.
22/4/90… these numbers answers the questions that most people ask me like; “Why would you want to start a nonprofit business?” or, “Why does your organization exist”? These question are asked because many do not understand the condition our Wounded Veterans, Caregivers, and families are in or just how drastic the need is.
…. Veterans who survived Taliban and al Qaida attacks, roadside bombs, mortar fire and the deaths of fellow soldiers told
that they have returned home to a future threatened by poverty, unemployment, homelessness and suicide
Post 9-11 Veterans Returning Home to a Nation who Cannot Address their Needs
THE FACTS More than 2.6 million post-9/11 Veterans Have Already Re-Entered Civilian Life.
For many of them their futures are not so certain or positive….
- 22 veterans a day commit suicide (1 every 65 minutes)
- 4x a Veteran with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is more likely to commit suicide than one without,
- 90% is the divorce rate for a returning veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
According to Military Ministry married Veterans with PTSD have 2 out of 3 of their marriages failing.
Many who suffer from combat trauma are reluctant to seek help from military channels because of how it could affect their records. Questions of mental illness could disqualify them from leadership and/or desirable assignments.
- 52% of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom Veterans have transitioned back to civilian life without adequate transitional assistance,
- 20% (1-in-4) combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer with PTSD
- 19% of OIF/OEF veterans may have Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- 7% of veterans have Both PTSD & TBI (Comorbid)
- 50% of Veterans w/ PTSD don’t seek treatment
- 260,000 Post 9-11 Veterans (OEF,OIF, OND) have been diagnosed with TBI
More than half of 2.6 million Veterans who have fought in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan struggle with physical or mental health problems stemming from their service, feel disconnected from civilian life and believe the government is failing to meet the needs of this generation’s veterans, according to a poll conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The Principles that will achieve Success for Transitioning Veterans
As a Marine I was taught about the value of leadership and learned first hand the importance of knowing the 11 Leadership Principles and the 14 Leadership Traits (JJ DID TIE BUCKLE) and I know that the level of importance and the time, energy and training that goes into teaching leadership and instilling Warrior Ethos for the other Branches of service is probably just as equally important as in the Corps.
For all of us who have been involved in combat operations we know first hand the vital role decisive leadership has in achieving success of mission and troop welfare.
General C. B. Gates, the 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps defined Leadership as the following:
Leadership is intangible, hard to measure, and difficult to describe. Its quality would seem to stem from many factors. But certainly they must include a measure of inherent ability to control and direct, self-confidence based on expert knowledge, initiative, loyalty, pride and sense of responsibility. Inherent ability cannot be instilled, but that which is latent or dormant can be developed. Other ingredients can be acquired. They are not easily learned. But leaders can be and are made.
General C. B. Cates,
19th Commandant of the Marine Corps
In order for veterans like myself to have a successful and sustainable transition we need others like us out here assisting just as we did while in the Military. Of the 11 Leadership Principles that the Marine Corps has I would like to focus on just a few that I think are missing out in the civilian populace and how Wounded Veterans are the answer to turning things around.
MARINE CORPS 11 LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLES:
- Know Yourself and Seek Self Improvement
- Be Technically and Tactically Proficient
- Know Your People and Look Out For Their Welfare
- Keep Your Personnel Informed
- Set The Example
- Ensure That The Task Is Understood, Supervised, and Accomplished
- Train Your Marines and Sailors as a Team
- Make Sound and Timely Decisions
- Develop a Sense of Responsibility Among Your Subordinates
- Employ Your Command Within its Capabilities
- Seek Responsibilities and Take Responsibility
The issues that exist are;
Know Your People and Look Out For Their Welfare
– None really understand or know the veterans whom they should be looking out and or anything really about their wellbeing. (Out of Touch & don’t speak the language)
This is one of the most important of the leadership principles.
A leader must make a conscientious effort to observe those they lead and how they react to different situations. Someone who is nervous and lacks self-confidence should never be put in a situation where it could cause them to regress and do more harm than good. This knowledge will enable those leading or in charge of veterans welfare, programs and services to determine when close supervision is required. (Having a thumb on the pulse). This can only be achieved By Veterans. That’s why Camp Freedom Ranch is working on building its core of Warrior Peer Mentors and Coaches.
– To put this principle in to practice successfully you should:
– Put your Marines’ welfare before your own
– Be approachable
– Encourage individual development
– Know your unit’s mental attitude; keep in touch with their thoughts
– Ensure fair and equal distribution of rewards
– Provide sufficient recreational time and insist on participation
Ensure That The Task Is Understood, Supervised, and Accomplished
– The level of incompetence seems to grow day by day and the number of veterans who fall by the wayside continues to grow. The unemployment of veterans and homelessness will continue to grow unless veterans truly feel that they can trust the person with whom they are speaking. Veterans are really good at seeing through people who are just giving them lip service. People, programs, resources, and services that should exist for veterans don’t. The gap to care and barriers that the RAND spoke of Still exist.
Train Your Marines and Sailors as a Team
– Veterans are used to working in a team setting and now that they are out and no longer a part of that team their mental resiliency begins to take a toll. Having a place like that of CFR that seek to engage, equip, and empower veterans through the REAP methodology can be the game changer in the lives of many veterans. Unfortunately, funding is scare to nonexistent and the powers to be and other organizations that are currently in place are not as receptive to building synergistic collaborations that ultimately focus on the wellbeing of the veteran.
– TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) By being able to take Veterans, Caregivers, and their families to recreational and military evens is vital to achieving this success). Before we just take veterans out to a ballgame or wherever its important to ensure that whatever training we do is meaningful, and that the purpose is clear to all members.
Develop a Sense of Responsibility Among Your Subordinates
– Not to go into too much depth here but in order to develop a sense of responsibility among veterans they first must feel as if they can trust the team they are working with in addition to the training that must go into helping them develop that responsibility.
– Another way to show veterans that you are interested in their welfare is to give them the opportunity for personal and professional development. Agencies should seek out and ask veterans for their help in achieving tasks or developing new initiatives to assist other veterans who will follow after them. This will go a long way in promoting mutual confidence and respect between the organization / agency and the veteran community. It also encourages veterans to exercise initiative and to give wholehearted cooperation in accomplishment of these initiatives. (Again Veterans can see through a smoke screen so to do something like this they MUST BE AUTHENTICATE). Without the authenticity you can forget it.