LETTER TO THE EDITOR: You earned the right to have a good life
The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Bemidji Pioneer by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bemidji Pioneer. To submit a letter, email firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to Bemidji Pioneer, P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.
On average, 22 military veterans commit suicide each day. I was a sniper in a long-range reconnaissance patrol and ranger unit in Vietnam. When I retired in 1989, I no longer had the uniform or military facade to hide behind.
My family suffered due to my post-traumatic stress disorder, which I was oblivious to. Fortunately, my wife, also a veteran, made me realize that I need help. My daughters encouraged me to do something. All too often I saw the fear and tears in their eyes.
I was scared, angry and ashamed that I needed help. We contacted the VA and my journey began. I never used drugs and never drank, which helped.
It's an ongoing battle but through programs, counseling, groups and meds. I think I'm becoming a better person, husband and father. Thus ends my sermon.
For both young and older vets there is no shame in asking for help. Movies and video games never show the downside of coming home. You have to ask yourself, what would you tell a fellow troop if they were hurting?
The memories will never go away, what you have been through were the best and worst times of your life.
It's a cliche, but you did what you had to do to survive, some things you had no control over. You survived and made it home.
Take a close look at yourself, think of your loved ones and your friends that gave their all. Take that first step forward, contact your county veterans officer or local VA clinic.
You earned the right to have a good life.
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