“I have done things that haunt me at night so that you can sleep in peace.
I have been away from my family a long time so that you can be safe.
I have sacrificed a lot in my life so that you can live free.
I have done these things because I have sworn an oath to my country.
And I will live by this oath until the day I die.
Because I am and always will be a U.S. Veteran.”
— author unknown
Our mission based in Afghanistan has ended.
Yes we killed Osama bin Laden, but at the cost of fighting America’s longest and most costly war in our history. And we did not leave the country any better off than it was when we started “shock and awe” after 9/11.
The Taliban was in control when we started, and they rapidly regained control when we pulled out. The people of Afghanistan mostly lived in poverty caused by corruption and repression of human rights, and now face the same bleak future as before.
And our brave men and women of our Armed Forces face a media that greatly ignores their accomplishments and sacrifice now that a news cycle has ended.
Fortunately, the public did not welcome home these veterans with open disdain and hostility that our Vietnam veterans faced upon their return.
We sent these warriors to war in trained units and brought them as veterans with their units. One did not go to and from war as individuals — alone — but as brothers and sisters who shared their common experiences, who understood each other.
At least we re-learned that lesson from past wars.
However, many of the same mistakes have repeated themselves over and over.
Suicide remains a silent foe that many battle night after night, day after day, and many still are lost.
But many say this is just a price that they must pay, and the talent and crime shows dominate our television screens along with zombies and senseless horror shows. Few and far between are programs to educate our families and public of what we can do to help our veterans re-acclimate to society and fruitful futures.
The Veterans Administration claims that veteran suicides numbers are dropping, however other sources say otherwise. One often quoted number is there are 24 veteran suicides a day.
For those who have clocks with hourly chimes this is a chilling reminder. Every hour on the hour the clock chimes, and another veteran has lost his or her battle with their inner demons.
How can numbers be dropping when the scars of our loss in Afghanistan are still so fresh? Just because the media has stopped caring about them, does this make the situation go away?
Our warriors who did all that was asked of them are still America’s sons and daughters who are not expendable.
The following veterans organizations are here in Tooele County. They meet at the Tooele Pioneer Museum at 47 E. Vine Street in Tooele City. Entrance is from the parking lot in the back. Veterans helping Veterans is often the most helpful for our warriors. American Legion meets on the second Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. Disabled American Veterans meet on the third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. Veterans of Foreign Wars meet on the last Thursday of the month.
Vietnam Veterans of America also is a great source of support. I am a member of the Utah State Board of Directors. We meet on the first Thursday of the Month at the Mountain View Church in Fruit Heights Utah.
The Life’s Worth Living Foundation hosts a support group here in Tooele City at the Mountain West Medical Center for people struggling with thoughts of suicide or those who have lost a loved one to suicide. They meet every 4th Tuesday at 7 p.m. The foundation can be reached at 435-248-5483
Remember to thank our veterans every day of the year, not just November 11th.
Dennis H. Tracey is a retired Sgt. 1st Class.