Yesterday, I received the same horrific phone call I have dreadfully received too many times before here at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF).
A grieving family member tearfully informed me that yet another one of our MRFF clients had committed suicide.
The shock and despair, as always, come forward at the speed of light.
There is no defense to it, nor should there be.
The full magnitude of the hurt is not possible to describe in the written word.
Again, no mitigation is extant, nor should there be.
The young man who took his life yesterday had only recently been honorably discharged.
I had spoken to him only a few days ago.
He seemed happy and resolved to fully engage his new civilian life pursuits.
He had his whole life in front of him.
He had the GI Bill and was going to go to college and wanted to become an engineer.
He had been decorated multiple times for valor and bravery in combat in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
He was a Christian but had been repeatedly targeted by his military superiors for not fully embracing their fundamentalist / weaponized version of Christianity.
He was a Christian but had been repeatedly targeted by his military superiors for not fully embracing their fundamentalist/weaponized version of Christianity.
MRFF had successfully weighed in on several occasions to help him through the years.
I thought he would do so well and live a happy and productive life he had so well earned,
Just as he had so courageously and selflessly fought for our country.
I was wrong.
His suicide is the third one among our 71,000-plus MRFF clients in the last 27 months. (The 15th overall since we began in 2005.)
The other two MRFF client suicide victims over these last 27 months were Muslim and Atheist.
As many of you know, there is another pandemic ravaging our nation besides COVID-19.
Approximately 20-plus veterans kill themselves EVERY DAY now here in America.
This dismal national outrage MUST stop, and we are all complicit unless we DO SOMETHING to help.
The family member who called me yesterday told me something else.
Our now deceased MRFF client had been found in his bed.
Besides the pistol he had just fired, next to his body, was the Purple Heart he had earned…and something else;
The MRFF Challenge Coin he had so happily received from us several years ago.
When told of this tragic fatality scene by his family member, I lost all emotional control.
There was no way not to. Nor should there have been.
Our Active Duty, Reserve, Guard, Cadet, and Midshipmen military members and Veterans deserve much more than merely our fervent “thoughts and prayers,” gratitude and respect for their service.
They deserve our PROACTIVE energies directed to stopping this tidal wave of self-inflicted death.
No more phone calls should ever have to be made like the one I received yesterday.
Military Religious Freedom Foundation