When the opportunity to work with Michael’s Foundation came along earlier this year, I was so happy to be able to make a contribution to our family’s foundation! I have seen the foundation make incredible impacts this year, and I can see the potential Michael’s Foundation has to offer our Veterans and their families in the years to come. My heart feels fulfilled, my hope is lifted, I feel empowered. Empowered to be a part of a foundation that really wants to make a difference in the lives of a very unique population, which is our US Armed Forces service men and women and their families!!!
Thinking about how my brother struggled with his Demons of War, and how his life could have been saved and could have been happy if only he had the resources he didn’t know he needed. Military families are our own breed. We go through things that non military families will never understand, although they can sympathize with our trials and tribulations. When my brother committed suicide, I never ever felt so empty, so lost, so detached, so incredibly depressed it hurt my body every day. Our family will never be the same. Each of us 5 surviving siblings and our parents, our kids, our spouses, we all buried Michael in our own way, in our own spaces, and each of us struggles to grieve a life lost too soon even almost 6 years later.
So it’s Christmas, and the holidays are always so hard when we are missing a loved one that’s no longer with us. As I try to embrace each day of the Christmas season; I count my blessings, try to stay present, try to do good, donate to good causes, check in on friends and family a little more often, I can’t help but be haunted by the fact that there are Veterans out there hurting, struggling with demons just like Michael’s demons, and need help.
The Veterans who served our country, and now left to figure out how to live in the civilian world as if they didn’t just come home from a war. Not to mention their families: parents who try to make a home a home again for them, spouses and kids who try to make room for them back into the family’s daily routines. It’s all a lot, it’s a transition that no one can quite explain, but if you’ve been through it, you get it. It’s like going from 100 to zero and not being allowed to catch your breath and recover from the jolt.
Our VA and our government fail our post military families in that they aren’t doing enough to stop the barrage of Veteran suicides. They aren’t doing enough to assist the surviving families of the victims. We need to do more and we can do more.
My grown up Christmas Wish is that if one Veteran’s life can be saved, if one spouse can feel like they have someone to turn to, if a child of a veteran can feel safe and happy, then my brother’s life will start to become less and less tragic. As Michael’s Foundation grows, and as we provide assistance to more and more Veterans and their families, then I can begin to see my brother’s suicide be a lesson learned, a wake up call for those of us who can, to stand up and help.
My grown up Christmas Wish is for you to make a difference. Reach out to a Veteran, check on their family, ask if they need your help. Point them in a direction of hope and light. Most of them will never ask for help, it’s not what they were trained to do. Please spread the word about Michael’s Foundation, and make a difference!