It is with deep anguish that I read the article on Suicide Prevention Month that appeared on Sept. 28. This article was important, but a bit late don’t you think?
I contacted Life Worth Living about a demographic that is greatly endangered over a month ago. about reaching out to our active duty military and veterans who are fighting the demons of the tragic outcome of events in Afghanistan and Iraq.
They are going through the same conflicting whirlwind of emotions that we Vietnam Veterans have had to deal with for years.
I have been reliving the nightmare of the Vietnam War and I know many of my peers are doing the same. I was in Thailand for the false Peace of January 1973 and the final end of the Vietnam War on April 30, 1975.
Since then more veterans have taken their own lives than were killed in the war.
This article spoke not a single word about my brothers and sisters in arms.
It mentions no programs or phone numbers for them to call. It is just as if they don’t exist. Unfortunately for their friends and families many will soon no longer exist. When will our community open their eyes to their endangerment?
The founding principle of the Vietnam Veterans of America is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”
My life is dedicated to walking the talk.
I have just returned from Tucson, Arizona where I went to get some closure concerning the act of “suicide by cop” by Spc. Brandon Barrett.
This took place in Salt Lake City, Utah on August 28, 2010. Look it up if you have forgotten.
As a non-commissioned officer, retired from the U.S. Army, I immediately knew there was something more to the story of Brandon’s experience in Afghanistan than the media reported. Then, the day of Brandon’s scheduled funeral, the U.S. Army canceled any military honors as he had committed a felony.
I was then the commander of VFW Post 9413 here in Tooele. I did not sleep for two nights.
The Army was not punishing Brandon. He was ashes in an urn. They were punishing his family.
His father, Bill Barrett, is a retired Marine. They did not deserve this unjust treatment. I contacted the VFW Post in Sierra Vista. I explained the situation to the post commander. Post 9972 provided military honors.
It went onto my “bucket list” of things I had to do before my time on earth ends, that I had to stand before this awesome group to personally thank them.
I did so last week, and deposited a tab at the bar to buy everyone there a drink. I also spent time in the cemetery with Brandon.
In the years since his death, several of his unit have committed suicide.
It has come to light that soldiers had committed war crimes against innocent Afghans. They are serving time in federal prison.
A movie has been made of this story. No apology has been issued by the Army to Brandon’s family.
Now this country again has repeated history yet again.
Team Veteran Foundation reports we are losing one veteran every 48 minutes.
It is my belief that this number is increasing with recent events America’s desire to forget.
The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring VA responders. Confidential help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Veterans and their loved ones can anonymously:
Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1
Send a text message to 838255
Call the American Legion at (800) 433-3318
Call the Veterans of Foriegn Wars at 816.756.3390
Call Disabled American Veterans at (877) 426-2838
Veterans wrote you, the American citizens, a check payable up to and including the price of their life for your freedom. Don’t let them die in despair now they are home!
The Constitution of the United States has 26 Amendments.
Let The Ten Commandments — sacred to Judism, Christianity, and Islam — found in one form or another in many of the world’s faiths, write one more out of human compassion: “Thou shall not ignore your fellow citizen in crisis for they are still part of humankind.”
This applies to all of us. I do not advocate only for Veterans but for every man, woman , and child in our community, state and country.
Vietnam Veterans have a special empathy with the veterans of today. I call on my fellow veterans to reach out to their comrades in arms. You have to take somebody’s hand, you have to help somebody up, you have to hear with all your heart, for your words are not enough.
Retired Sergeant First Class
Dennis H. Tracey
U.S. Army Retired
435 268 9480