By Terrence Murphy
On Memorial Day, we remember those military members who have died while in service to our nation. Men and women, volunteers all, who have paid the ultimate price for our continued freedom, deserve our respect and gratitude. Too often we celebrate this weekend as the informal start of summer, replete with beach, beer and barbecue, and forget its true meaning. Please take a moment to remember the reason you have off today, and are able to nurse your hangover in peace.
Leading up to this Memorial Day, I had the honor of compiling a tribute to soldiers I have served with, who are no longer with us. It was displayed at our Desert Storm 25th anniversary reunion this Memorial Day weekend. As I gathered names of the dead, and pictures of those killed in battle, who will remain forever young, I found myself fixated on a couple. They were young, intelligent and capable, and died by their own hand. They are no less a casualty of war, than those who died catching steel on the battlefield.
I’m not going to tout the oft quoted number of veteran suicides per day. While doing research, I found the data set flawed. However, that which cannot be denied is the statistically significant, higher propensity for suicide among veterans than those groups who never served. Veterans commit suicide at a rate 50% higher than the general population. We need to ask ourselves, why?
We read in the news that an appointed official of the Veteran’s Administration claims that since “the lines at Disney World are not timed, why should wait times at the VA?” Why sir? Really? Disney patrons are not killing themselves. There is a saying that each soldier wrote a blank check to the American Citizen payable in the amount up to, and including, their very life. All we ask now is you please not bounce our checks.
Terrence Murphy served in the Gulf War with A Troop, 4-7 CAV, Garryowen!