As Americans, we have a duty to provide our nation's heroes with the care and resources they need. Health care reform provides an historic opportunity to find new, collaborative approaches that could better serve them.
There's nothing more important than knowing that our families are healthy and happy. And after spending so much time with military families and hearing your stories of service and sacrifice for our country, I know that that's your priority as well.
In the military, fighter jets fly in formation, with the lead aircraft ahead and a backup plane off the right wing and behind. The wingman protects the lead pilot, watching his back. Each of us must be a wingman to the Veterans, service members and military families in our lives.
For many years, the prevailing culture among first responders, and members of the military and Veterans, has been stoicism. Whatever it was you'd gone through you'd better deal with quietly, deal with it alone and get back to work.
Sometimes, something as simple as talking to a Veteran can help them open the door and rediscover what matters most in their life. Whether the Veteran you know has just returned home, or they served years ago, you can be there to support them and help them remember what matters.
Aiding our men and women in uniform has always been integral to the American Red Cross' mission. Today, the American Red Cross' professional, compassionate team staffs an Emergency Communications Center dedicated to the military community.
While most military deaths are traumatic and violent in nature, suicide poses special issues that the parents, spouses, children, siblings and other family members must grapple with. It's extremely important that we get these families into bereavement care and support following a death.
I learned of extreme poverty and violence "over there" in the Army. When I came home I saw it in my own country. I continue to ask myself, how can we spend trillions to kill human beings and next to nothing on healing them? I joined the military to make the world a better place. Not destroy it.
It was a remarkable transformation to witness, and I have had the pleasure of seeing this kind of magic happen again and again because of Jake and the work he has done tirelessly, with much help, for the next group of returning Veterans who come and give us what is literally a last chance at saving their lives, in Malibu.
I serve as a noncommissioned officer in the Army Reserve, and during a drill weekend last year, I led a discussion with Soldiers on mental health. It was not an easy talk. Service members are expected to embody strength and toughness.
When we bring religious groups into the circle of resources available to those who serve, we can better support Guardsmen and women spread across the state, some of whom live hours from the nearest U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) facility.
While SSG Montgomery's story is not unique, it does paint an all too common picture within the ranks of the US Army. A Soldier commits suicide, and the survivors are left with countless questions. Questions that will probably never get answered.
It's incumbent on all of us to get involved and support our soldiers whether or not we agree with our country's military actions, whether or not we have service members in our own families. We must demand answers and options.
If we are to achieve our goals, we must all work together to help veterans receive the benefits and compassion they have earned at every level of government and society.
We owe it this generation of veterans to recognize the neurological and psychiatric effects of mefloquine neurotoxicity alongside PTSD and TBI for what they are: the third signature injury of modern war.
Addressing the "underlying disorders" alone won't necessarily work to prevent people from dying by suicide.