On Memorial Day, the nation pauses to remember those who have died while serving in the US Military. Community Friendship, Inc. also pauses to remember those who survived their service but now live with mental illnesses.
More than half of the nation's active duty troops (and more than 80% of US Marines) are under 30 years old and thus in the prime years for the onset of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Combining troop age with the combat experiences that result in post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, the prevalence of mental illness among veterans and its consequences are producing reports of:
--Mental illness as the leading cause of hospitalization for active-duty troops.
--Roughly 1 in 5 Iraq veterans and 1 in 10 Afghanistan veterans suffering from mental illness.
--Nearly half of the estimated 300,000 homeless veterans experiencing a mental illness.
--18 veterans committing suicide each day.
--Veterans with mental illness dying earlier from other medical conditions than civilians with the same mental illnesses.
We owe so much to the servicemen and women who secure our freedom and watch over us even when we do not know they are there.
Take a moment to contemplate what freedom means for you. Consider also the often harsh conditions that deployed military are faced with, and then look within yourself to find the place in you that holds the same level of courage and tenacity that those situations require. Celebrate your freedom yet remember the sacrifices made on your behalf. When possible, shake the hand of military personnel and offer a heartfelt - Thank you!
Support access to mental health services and resources for veterans. Visit www.communityfriendship.org