“There are 22 suicides of veterans every day,”
“We lose more veterans to suicide in one year than all the deaths from combat since 9/11.”
It is not just an American problem. It seems to be one of our period in history, affecting many in Western nations which send men off to war.Australian veteran suicide, too, is troubleing. It is a stain on the 'laid-back Australian character. Tough men, trained and hardened should be able to weather the demands battle puts upon them. But it seems many cannot.
The hardening is largely of the body: the toughening of the emotions, too. But the spirit is neglected. Men have souls and our training disregards men's souls. They return from war to hospitals where their fleshy wounds, sometimes of a dreadful nature, can be dealt with; but their souls are wounded too. And there is no-one to nurse that.
The main point in the bar was about the invisible wounds soldiers get.
"Moral Injury stems from the participation in acts of combat that conflict with a soldier's deeply held principles. This unseen impairment leads to a sense of guilt, shame, and grief which can manifest itself as self-harm or suicide if not addressed.
Vets rarely suicide because their body hurts. Many are incredibly stoic about that.
They suicide when in despair.
Huey Lewis expressed it well. Probably better than any other popular singer.
Suicide rate among (Australian) defence veterans far higher than for those currently serving
National Mental Health Commission says reason for phenomenon requires further investigation.
The rate of suicide among current serving Australian defence force membersis much lower than the general population, but higher for those who have left the force, particularly if under 30 years of age.
It says the ADF must improve the preparation it gives personnel for life beyond the ADF, and then provide support services from the moment of discharge for the duration of post-service life.The final report of the Commission’s review of the suicide and self-harm prevention services available to serving and ex-serving ADF members and their families was released on Thursday.
It relied on interviews with more than 3,200 serving and ex-serving ADF members, family members, and experts. It found current and former ADF personnel could access a range of suicide services, and a survey conducted for the review found 80% of current ADF members described their experience of those services as fair, good, very good or excellent.
So just what did James Mukoyama have to say to Jocko Wilink that captured all the attention? It was a very long evening and those of you who want to hear how a chap builds his way in the Warrior career path, gets disappointed, frustrated, learns a huge amount about himself and men, then please do listen all the way from start to finish. I did. I had to delegate Ale pouring to a handy consciencious objector.But it heard a range of poor experiences of services, and feelings of cynicism, distrust, frustration, abandonment and loss, with many ADF members unaware that services existed, and barriers preventing some from accessing services.When adjusting for age, when compared with all Australian men, it says the suicide rate is 53% lower for men serving in the ADF full time – a statistically significant difference. But the suicide rate is 13% higher for men who have left the force.
Let me introduce the tiny Warrior. His active career was short. His Reserve career was long, but oh, so busy. Major General James H. Mukoyama, Jr. was born in Chicago, Illinois, on August 3, 1944. He retired from the Army in May 1995, after over thirty years of total active and reserve component service, and two combat tours.
He was commissioned as a Regular Army Infantry Second Lieutenant in 1965 upon graduation from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature. He received his Master’s degree in the Teaching of Social Studies also from the University of Illinois in 1966.
During his five years on active duty, General Mukoyama served as a platoon leader in the demilitarized zone in the Republic of Korea and as an infantry company commander in the 9th Division in Vietnam. He was the youngest General Officer in the entire United States Army in 1987 and subsequently the youngest Major General three years later.
In 1989, he became the first Asian-American in the history of the United States to command an Army division. Among General Mukoyama’s decorations and badges are the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, 3 Bronze Stars, Purple Heart, Parachutist Badge, Expert Infantryman’s Badge, and Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
There was so much about the deep and detailed conversation that I recognised, from all the 'dream sheet' requests ignored, to the frustrations of working with the many Officers who were 'Duds' instead of 'Studs', to meeting and having first-class mentors, and of course to seeing 'Action' on the battlefield. He speaks too, of the inter-service rivalries; the political issues that are precursors of today's international issues: the 'race-relationship' issues affecting American (and other western nations): the struggle to gain understanding of just who one is.
But I shall point you to the 'Defining Moment, as it is relevant.
You will have to go to around 1 hour and 9 minutes into the video. Follow for a good ten minutes to understand. Hold off your judgement.
Since his retirement from active federal service in 1995, General Mukoyama has volunteered and participated in numerous organizations, both governmental and non-profit charitable, benefiting our military, veterans, and the community.
In addition to his full-time civilian position as Executive Vice-President and Chief Compliance Officer of a national stock brokerage firm, General Mukoyama spent seven years as the Vice-Chairman of the National Memorial to Patriotism dedicated in Washington, DC in 2001. He is a life member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Military Order of the Purple Heart, and Disabled Veterans of America.
In January 2013, General Mukoyama answered a calling to devote his life to the ministry of Military Outreach USA, a faith-based 501(c)(3) organization serving our military --- Active, Guard, Reserve, Veterans --- and their families, to cope with the visible and invisible wounds associated with military service to our great nation.
In order to serve as the President and Executive Director, Mukoyama’s 38-year career in the financial services industry, where he had been a member of the New York Stock Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange, ended.
He lives in Glenview, Illinois, with K.J., his wife of over forty-six years. They attend Willow Creek Community Church where he has led a men’s small group for over a decade, co-directs a monthly men’s breakfast, and founded a military ministry program.
He has written extensively on the Moral Injury. A summary of the Program would say: To define the little known invisible wound of war called Moral Injury; its history and insidious relation to Veteran suicide; that hope and healing is available; and how the community must get involved.
You can access information on Military Outreach USA:
It is a faith-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which is a national service organization dedicated to providing resources and support to caring Partners who envision a nation where no one in the Military Community lacks the mental, spiritual, physical or material support needed to live a full and productive life.
As a faith-based organization strategically based in Northbrook, Illinois, Military Outreach USA develops resources, tools and programs to be used to serve the Military Community. These programs and resources are then shared at no cost with our partners.
They say that you cannot keep a good man down, and certainly this soldier is not going to simply fade away.
Now, I must be off to pour more Ale. It can cure ails.
And just as The General, as a young Knight, found the few moments in the heat of battle to say a prayer over the three men killed at his feet, so please, you pray too.
Men go to war, generally not having a personal dog in the fight. We are well aware in the west that much of the fighting we do is to defend our nations or those of our friends. Occasionally we embark on punative wars. But the men involved on both sides are MEN. All the same. We all bleed, We all fart. We all would prefer to be at home. But our soldiers' job is to kill the enemy, or else be killed by the enemy.
Modern armies - particularly the US forces, and to only a smaller extent those of Oz and GB and Canada and NZ - have training regimes that emphasise 'hating' the enemy. Troops 'demonise' the enemy. This is not a good thing to do and training regimes MUST change.
I was a warrior, paid to kill the enemy, not to hate him. So was young Lt Mukoyama. His sudden insight took him by surprise. I was fortunate to have a Sergeant who knew what was needed. Men must be trained not to be suprised by this obvious insight. They must expect it.
Since the General's day, the moral codes have loosened. Disastrously. But deep down it is in our genes. We are Human being made by God. Young men go into the military, many without a firm moral foundation. The military ethos must start from square one with many of them and include defences of the spirit as well as how to clean a weapon.
They must be taught basic respect for human life, even when they are obliged to take it. They must love their enemies.
Pray for our young men. And those young women who step up.
Best to pray before battle. For oneself and one's enemy.