Police rang me the other night to ask if I’d visit the Royal to see a veteran I’d worked with a few years ago who had tried to take his life. I took him back to where he was staying in South Liverpool and returned home to hear on a veterans forum that yet another veteran had killed himself.
If you are a veteran or you know a veteran please encourage them to contact their local veterans hub. Veterans are not unique when it comes to suicide but we are over represented in the statistics. Why is this? I can only answer for myself. I was brought up in a time when big boys didn’t cry. To ask for help seemed to suggest I wasn’t coping. I was happy to be the Good Samaritan but struggled to be the wounded jew. We had to keep a stiff upper lip. What does that even mean? Well, your upper lip is the first part of your face that betrays you when you’re about to cry. Notice I said betray you. In other words to cry is to let myself down. Got news for you fellas. It’s OK to cry in fact it’s good for you. Don’t dare think “here we go, another bleedin heart liberal snowflake!”
I don’t mean to tear up at every opportunity but you have to release the pressure that can build up inside. Otherwise we can take it out on our loved ones or ourselves. One day we have literally an army at the back of us, brothers in arms, who we know have our 6 o clock. The next, we’re very much alone sometimes even when surrounded by a loving family. It took a lot of time and money to turn me from a civvy into a soldier. I believed that one of my issues was that absolutely nothing was done to turn me back into a civilian.
I once heard that the dogs we use in the military are given up to 2 years resettlement. I was in one minute and gone the next. I now feel that it’s OK to never again be a civilian, even better, I’m a veteran. And most of the time I cope admirably, but every now and then I feel there’s a metal band around my forehead that gets tightened.
Knowing what I know why do I wait for this to be almost unbearable before I ask for help? Simple. It’s because of low self image and because of all that crap I picked up as a kid and growing up. Prevention is better than cure. It’s also easier to live well when I’m connected. Extend to yourself the same patience and help you would give to someone else.
So pick up the phone or contact your local veterans hub and remember you’re not on your own. Wars over. Stop fighting, especially with yourself. 👍