It’s about time

Army, Chaplaincy

It’s me.
I know it.
I’m aware of it.
This is emphatically my opinion and I speak only for myself.
It’s because I am married to a commissioned minister, a serving pastor. And hey, I’ve become sensitive to it. Recently, at morning chapel for chaplains, a male chaplain preached to “men of God” and completely ignored the presence of the only female chaplain in the room. Of course, this seems to be standard fare. I regularly experience chaplains (and I’ve been guilty of it myself) not even making an atempt at gender inclusive language.

We have a recruiting problem. We need more female chaplains in the US Army.

Yesterday, the US Navy appointed the first female Chief of Chaplains of the Navy. She had been the Chaplain of the Marine Corps (the Navy Deputy Chief of Chaplains) just prior. I applaud it. I am excited and proud of the Navy that they, finally, in 2014, had the courage to appoint a woman pastor to a position of power.

Only, it’s 2014.

And my service? My beloved Army? From this Captain’s foxhole, our halls of leadership look awfully white and male.

And it’s 2014. I think it’s about time.

I’ve heard the reasons, and they all sound the same – “the path to leadership needs to go through certain gates and those gates are closed to women. We choose the best candidate, and we’ve just not had a woman pass through the right gates – they are just not competitive for the job.”

It’s 2014 and THAT is still a reason. If gates are a problem, either change the gates or start sending the women through them in order to get them ready to lead the Corps. It’s our Corps and we decide the path to power.

Here’s the thing, my Corps loves to post the story about the first woman commissioned as a chaplain. It was 1974 and Rev. Alice Henderson, a pastor with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, was sworn in at Ft. McPherson, GA and served for 13 years. Since then, dozens of women have served and even gained the rank of COL. But not chief. Not even deputy chief.

And the notion that they “just have not had the right assignments” is not good enough. I have heard for my entire career that the Corps sees you at some point and starts grooming you for leadership opportunities – up to and including the role of chief. So, what I’m seeing, is that for 40 years of women serving in the US Army Chaplain Corps, there hasn’t been one person, one woman, who could be groomed to be the Chief. Not one.

We are not the Infantry Branch, Armor, Intelligence, or Artillery. We are the Chaplain Corps, and we are woefully inadequate in the area of diversity. I can only hope that as I write this, there are great women serving in positions of power who are being groomed for the role as Chief. I hope to serve one in my career.

No more excuses. They are not good enough. Having women serve as colonels is not good enough. It’s about time.

How “Open and Affirming” has impacted my ministry thus far

Army, Chaplaincy

So, it’s not been quite a month since I posted my little sign on my door.

My emphasis on inclusivity has had an interesting, though anecdotal, impact on my pastoral care. I’ve noticed that those coming to see me have “gotten to the point” faster than in the past.

I don’t know if other chaplains or counselors have experienced this phenomena but it’s been true of my pastoral care wherever I’ve been a chaplain and even more so in prison. It goes like this: the individual requests an appointment. They come into the office and we spend significant time in the “joining process.” We talk about what we have in common, where we’ve served, likes/dislikes and theology. We do this gentle dance where I ask about what we’re there to talk about and they, passive/aggressively talk about everything under the sun but what they are really struggling with. I sense this, probe, and sense that they are not quite ready. It used to frustrate me but I’ve come to understand that it’s just their insecurities bleeding to the surface. If I try to rush it, it just gets worse. So, patiently, I wait till they trust me.

That’s the thing about trust – I can’t convince people that I am trustworthy – I can only be trustworthy.

This goes on for the majority of the hour then, after I note that it’s been a great talk and we can schedule another appointment – boom! Out it comes. The real issue. The deeper presenting problem. The shameful secret. Then, we’re out of time and I am in the position of choosing to address it or wait till next time.

Generally, I ask why it took so long. The answer is almost universal – they were concerned that I would judge them. That I would condemn them. That I would “think they were crazy.” It’s so normalized for me, I’ve come to expect it and plan for it in my pastoral counseling.

What I have noticed in the last month is that the “flash to bang” time has been less. Much less. I not only hung the sign on my door but also in the direct line of sight with those who sit in my office. There has been this neat moment when it catches their eyes and they read it. Silently. Take a deep breath and we get to the meat if the issue so. much. faster.

This last Sunday, I preached on the subject of how the Christian interacts with the world. I worked with the story of the Samaritan woman. I asked my congregation if Jesus judged the woman. Of course not. He said what was true for her but not in a condemning or humiliating way. He does not seem to have a need to call out her sin and make sure that she sees it. Of course, it is an assumption on our part that Christ considered the five husband thing a sin. He simply says what is true and she perceives that she is in the presence of a prophet.

Sometimes, we’re so intent on “taking a stand” and “calling sin, sin” that we miss out on the relationship that is forming. I challenged my prison congregation to focus on the “love the sinner” part and let the Holy Spirit take care of the sin part. I wondered what relationships we miss out on because we’re so committed to calling out the speck in our brother’s eye. I wondered what blessings we were missing out on because we refuse to interact with those whose charges we do not like or choices we do not approve of. I wondered what the “other” might have to say to us that would give us hope and encouragement but we were so bent on them “knowing where we stand” instead of just loving people for people’s sake.

I ended by reading my little sign.

After the service, (there were two) no less than ten different inmates wanted to know more about the Disciples of Christ and the response was overwhelmingly positive and affirming. In both services, inmates who know me and those who didn’t were coming up and thanking me. Clearly, it was water to thirsty souls.

Coming Out as Inclusive.

Army, Chaplaincy, Open and Affirming

It would seem that a post about this would be completely unnecessary in the pluralistic world of the Army Chaplain Corps. It would seem that the directive to perform one’s own faith and provide for all the others would make such a statement redundant.

Only it’s not.

Somehow, this needs be said.

So, I am going to say it: I am a chaplain for ALL my Soldiers. All of them. The gay ones. The straight ones. The fat ones. The skinny ones. The conservative ones. The liberal ones. The religious ones. The non religious ones. The connected to church and the far away. The reason driven and the faith-based. The agnostic and the Christian. The pagan, the Muslim, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the whatever-you-happen-to-believe right now. Everyone I can think to mention and everyone else.

All means all.

This last summer, the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) voted to call all Disciples Congregations to be a welcoming people of grace to ALL God’s children. All is given as “race, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, ethnicity, marital status, physical or mental ability, political stance or theological perspective.” Seems patently obvious but then, if we were all doing this already, such a statement would be unnecessary. This is my answer to that call.

A call given by my church but heard by me as a call from God.

I’ve been ministering in this way for well over two years now. I thought it sufficient to just ignore it and not really say anything. I thought it best to let people believe what they wanted about my ministry and be pleasantly surprised when they found out that I didn’t judge them (this is after they got the courage to come into the office for counseling). Over and over I heard my Soldiers, inmates, and family members vocalize that they didn’t expect me to be understanding. They would say something like, “frankly, I was worried about coming but you are different from other chaplains…” Still, I didn’t want to “put it all out there.”

“After all,” I reasoned, “if I make it too well known, I’ll just be labeled as the one who is “ok with the gays” and it’ll be all anyone thinks about when my name comes up. It’s just not that big a deal to me. I minister to everyone but surely, that’s a given.

Here’s the thing: I’ve met those with HIV because there was no safe place to identify as gay so they went to where they could and it was not safe. I have met those who ran from the church only to come to the Army for a sense of community and get rejected yet again. I’ve cried with those who finally say the words out loud, “I’m gay and I can’t tell anyone.” I’ve heard the stories about walking past the Chapel and in isolation, thinking about suicide but thinking there was no one inside who would help them.

It is not enough to just minister by word of mouth.

In a world where state legislators are literally passing laws that would allow them to refuse service to my fellow Soldiers (and everyone else) simply because of their orientation – it is not enough to be silent.

As a chaplain, I do not have a church to challenge with the Open and Affirming process, but I certainly can be exactly that – Open and Affirming.

I’m not saying this to be reactionary or a contrarian. I do not speak for anyone else but me.

I am saying this for the Soldier who is alone and thinks the world has rejected her because of who she is.

I am saying this for the Soldier walking by the chapel thinking that there is no one in there who can hear his pain and not judge him.

I am saying this for the spouse who, in shame, does not feel like he has anyone to turn to because of what he thinks about himself.

I am saying this for the parent whose gay child has just joined the Army and they are so worried that he’ll be abused for who he is.

I am saying this for the chaplains who also are “in the closet.” Truth is, they feel as I do but do not want to say it out loud and experience other chaplains reject them for interpreting Scripture differently from them.

I’m saying this for me. I’m saying this because if one of my children came out and was in the Army, I hope they would have a chaplain that would help them process what they are going through without judgment or condemnation.

I’m saying this for all those I have known, closeted and not, who have experienced great pain because the God they know and love is represented as doing the opposite.

From now on, this sign will hang on my door as a message to all the Soldiers, family members, and other chaplains I run across in my career – You are welcome.

Sign

It’s just a little officer pt…

Army, thought of the day

So there I was, a while ago, playing soccer for some friendly officer pt when I realized that the normal rules of soccer didn’t apply. Grrr. Frustration.

Here’s the thing. Soccer is my sport. I like it. I played it in college. I know the game. In a world of jocks (the Army) it’s the one sport I’m halfway good at. Thus, rules matter to me.

But only in the case of soccer. The rest… not so much.

Totally inconstant. I can own that.

There is a film called “Revolutionary Road” where one of the characters says No one really forgets the truth, they just get better at lying.”

This quote was highlighted to me on the day I lost my temper at our morning officer PT. There were some perceived injustices happening (again, I re-iterate that it was my perception) and this tapped a part of my personality that I don’t like. I like to think of myself as relaxed, removed, unflappable and easy going. Which is mostly true however what is also true is that I am a type A, driven, intense person who wants to win. I try really hard to keep all that in balance but sometimes it comes out in inappropriate ways and then I experience shame and guilt and embarrassment and all the stuff that goes along with exposing what I want to hide.

In some ways I think most of us have that. There are parts of us that we are not down with. We don’t really like. It triggers some embarrassment in us when it comes out. Authentic living integrates all the parts of who we are into our lives in a healthy way so that we are more holistic, healthy people who, instead of living out of our projected identity (that we have to go to great lengths to protect), live out of our authentic self – what you see and experience is who we are.

Leadership that rises from our core is the best leadership possible. The question to ask yourself today is, who are you really?”

Thanksgiving

Army, Chaplaincy, thought of the day

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s all the excitement, family, food, and joy of Christmas without the presents and all the special services. Yes, when you grow up a pastor’s kid and serve as clergy, all those special Christmas services are exhausting. My “relaxing Christmas holiday” starts about 26 December. This year, as the last couple years, I’ll be on duty so my holidays will start even later.

But not Thanksgiving. This weekend will be filled with all the fun traditions that are a part of the Army and our family.

Prior to 1863, Thanksgiving was a local holiday. It was primarily celebrated in New England. Where it was celebrated elsewhere, when it happened was driven by the States or local counties. Sometimes, it was celebrated as early as July and as late as January. Thanksgiving, as a holiday, was largely unknown in the American South. Sarah Hale, the influential editor of a popular woman’s journal and the one responsible for raising the money to build the Bunker Hill Memorial, had been unsuccessfully campaigning for it to become a national holiday since 1846. Her work came to fruition when Abraham Lincoln, probably looking for something to brighten the country as 1863 was the year of Vicksburg and Gettysburg. A year that thousands upon thousands of Americans died in the Civil War. Lincoln instituted a day of thanksgiving as an effort to unify the country. Prior to thanksgiving, the only other national holidays were Washington’s birthday and Independence Day.

“The year which is drawing to it’s close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies… I do therefore, invite my fellow citizens… to set apart and observe the last Thursday in November as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent father who dwelleth in the heavens.” Abraham Lincoln, 3 October 1863

Whatever your reason for celebrating, may your thanksgiving be filled with joy!

Paid Patriotism

Army, thought of the day

Well, at least according to Calvin Coolidge.

It was 1924. The veterans of WWI had very little to nothing in regards to actual benefits after serving their country on foreign soil. The “World War Adjusted Compensation Act” was brought before Congress.

From Wikipedia:

The act awarded veterans additional pay in various forms, with only limited payments available in the short term. The value of each veteran’s “credit” was based on each recipient’s service in the United States Armed Forces between April 5, 1917 and July 1, 1919, with $1.00 awarded for each day served in the United States and $1.25 for each day served abroad. It set maximum payments at $500 for a veteran who served stateside and $625 for a veteran who served overseas,[1] senior officers and anyone whose service began after November 11, 1918.[2]

It authorized immediate payments to anyone due less than $50.[3] The estate of a deceased veteran could be paid his award immediately if the amount was less than $500.[4] All others were awarded an “adjusted service certificate,” which functioned like an insurance policy. Based on standard actuarial calculations, the value of a veteran’s certificate was set as the value of a 20-year insurance policy equal to 125% of the value of his service credit. Certificates were to be awarded on the veteran’s birthday no earlier than January 1, 1925 and redeemable in full on his birthday in 1945, with payments to his estate if he died before then.[5] Certificate holders were allowed to use them as collateral for loans under certain restrictions.

The part of the Bill that deferred payment over $50 until 1945 was understandably called the “Tombstone Bonus.”

Coolidge vetoed the act saying, “Patriotism which is bought and paid for is not patriotism.” 

Thankfully, Congress passed it anyway. Paving the way for future benefits for veterans.

So, thanks 1924 Congress, for recognizing that the laborer is worthy of their hire and the reality that if we, as a country, are going to ask our young to die, we should also bear the burden of their repair.

Disciples come out of the closet…

Army, Chaplaincy

… and say, minister to everyone and own your theology.

This why I’m a disciple.

In the midst of all of the hullabaloo about who is going to minister to whom in the Army, I’m one of those guys that thinks the whole thing is just a little ridiculous. I mean, I’ve been an Army chaplain for 9 years and no one has ever told me who or what I can or cannot marry. No. One. Ever.

Essentially, we’re talking about a theological interpretation of a few passages of Scripture. A hundred years ago, substitute “divorce” for “same sex” and you get the picture.

Eventually, it’ll all blow over like it has is just about every other modern military. Chaplains who are uncomfortable or have theological differences will help the people they disagree with find a minister who is ok with helping them. Perform or provide. It’s what we do.

In the midst of all of this, it seems that endorsers are falling over themselves putting out dissertations dictating to their chaplains exactly who they can minister to and who they need to “pass along…” My denomination finally cleared the air and put out guidance for chaplains in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

I’ll Summarize: Historically, the denomination has never dictated to their chaplains how they should believe. Whatever you believe, serve all of God’s people with love, dignity, and respect. Own your theology and live your faith. Your denomination is behind you. There is room at the table.

Love. It.

DiscipleChaplainsLetter

Love and serve. Everyone.

This is why I’m a Disciple.

20%

Army, Chaplaincy

So, I had lunch last week with the FranklinCovey representative to the DoD. I am taking over the leadership of the “7 Habits on the Inside” program and needed to make that connection. During our conversation, I asked a question I’ve always wanted to ask of this company.

“In your evaluation of the program, “7 Habits of Highly Effective Military Families” do you take into account the idea that people who tend to come to marriage events also tend to care more about their marriages, have higher educations, more accessible social skills etc and just will tend to do better regardless of what seminars they attend? Do you adjust your numbers based on that?”

“It’s a fair question,” she replied, “however, we don’t get those numbers from the Army so, no, we don’t track that.” She went on to tell me how they do track success and how they operate their training. It was fascinating. Here’s the basic idea:

In every organization, about 20% of the group are top performers. They are going to perform no matter what. They will do well under bad leadership, excel under good leadership, and when given some tool to succeed with, will do even better.

There is also the bottom 20% who will not do well no matter what tools you give them. They just don’t get it. They are not destructive, they don’t get fired, just ignored. In actuality, most organizations just tend to work around them.

Then there is the middle 60% who tend to move in either direction based on leadership. It is this middle 60 that the FranklinCovey organization looks to influence.

I found this statistic fascinating. It resonates with my own experience. The central question I ask myself as a leader is:

What am I going to do today to lead that 60% to excellence? How will I help them make the best choices? How will I inspire them? They will tend to one direction or another – what can I do today to help them move towards the top?

 

My Country. A romantic and cynical meditation.

Army, Chaplaincy
I SUPPOSE that very few casual readers of the “New York Herald” of August 13, 1863, observed, in an obscure corner, among the “Deaths,” the announcement,—

         “NOLAN. Died, on board U. S. Corvette ‘Levant,’ Lat. 2°
  11′ S., Long. 131° W., on the 11th of May, PHILIP NOLAN.”

 

I had not read those words since high school. I did a monologue for state dramatic competition that year based on “The Man Without a Country” by Edward Evert Hale. It opens with those lines. I bought a book today of Classic American Short Stories not knowing this was part of the collection. It’s been over 15 years.

My dad wrote it. I remember listening to a reading of it by someone who would have been very comfortable reading the news on NPR. I wanted to perform it with more passion. I yelled alot. That’s how I tended to communicate passion, I talked faster and got louder.

In retrospect, it’s a wonder no one ever walked out laughing hysterically or trying to clear their heads of the headache inducing noise. Instead, they listened, politely. Some even confessed to being “moved.”

The story is of an American Officer who gets involved with Aaron Burr’s attempted overthrow of the US Government. Young Philip Nolan is enamored with Burr and bored by garrison life (much like many young officers I meet). He gets involved with the scheme and is caught. At the Court Martial, he curses the United States.

The courts dragged on. The big flies escaped,—rightly for all I know. Nolan was proved guilty enough, as I say; yet you and I would never have heard of him, reader, but that, when the president of the court asked him at the close whether he wished to say anything to show that he had always been faithful to the United States, he cried out, in a fit of frenzy,—    6
  “Damn the United States! I wish I may never hear of the United States again!”    7
  I suppose he did not know how the words shocked old Colonel Morgan, who was holding the court. Half the officers who sat in it had served through the Revolution, and their lives, not to say their necks, had been risked for the very idea which he so cavalierly cursed in his madness.

I love that passage. Must be because I now have sat in those proceedings. I’ve watched group think happen. I’ve watched old men bemused by young impulsivity. I’m even becoming a bit curmudgeonly judgmental myself.

A life at sea. Without news of home. Without even a word of home. Without identity. Without belonging. A man without a country.

As a teenager the story was moving if not understood. How could I? I was a teenager. I hadn’t really been out of the state of Michigan. How could I understand the gravity?

Nolan goes to sea. He’s haughty. Arrogant. Full of himself. Wrongly imprisoned by a government he refuses to recognize, he takes his punishment in stride. He moves from ship to ship, never going in sight of land, ever the guest of the Captain, never hearing of the United States, never reading of it in censored papers. It begins to wear at him. Then this happens:

So Nolan was permitted to join the circle one afternoon when a lot of them sat on deck smoking and reading aloud. People do not do such things so often now; but when I was young we got rid of a great deal of time so. Well, so it happened that in his turn Nolan took the book and read to the others; and he read very well, as I know. Nobody in the circle knew a line of the poem, only it was all magic and Border chivalry, and was ten thousand years ago. Poor Nolan read steadily through the fifth canto, stopped a minute and drank something, and then began, without a thought of what was coming,—

         “Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
  Who never to himself hath said,”—
  23
  It seems impossible to us that anybody ever heard this for the first time; but all these fellows did then, and poor Nolan himself went on, still unconsciously or mechanically,—

         “This is my own, my native land!”
  24
  Then they all saw something was to pay; but he expected to get through, I suppose, turned a little pale, but plunged on,—

         “Whose heart hath ne’er within him burned,
  As home his footsteps he hath turned
    From wandering on a foreign strand?—
  If such there breathe, go, mark him well,”—
  25
  By this time the men were all beside themselves, wishing there was any way to make him turn over two pages; but he had not quite presence of mind for that; he gagged a little, colored crimson, and staggered on,—

         “For him no minstrel raptures swell;
  High though his titles, proud his name,
  Boundless his wealth as wish can claim,
  Despite these titles, power, and pelf,
  The wretch, concentred all in self,”—

and here the poor fellow choked, could not go on, but started up, swung the book into the sea, vanished into his state-room, “And by Jove,” said Phillips, “we did not see him for two months again. And I had to make up some beggarly story to that English surgeon why I did not return his Walter Scott to him.”

 

A man with soul so dead… mark him well…

Maybe its because I’ve been an Army Officer for 8 years now. Maybe its the fact that I am pastor to hundreds of men who themselves have been imprisoned by their government for their actions, maybe its that I’m a father. I was reading it tonight at the “soft play” area at the mall. Kids are tearing around each other running up and down the plastic frogs and leaves. I am choking up. I look up at the children and swallow some tears. What kind of torture would it be to never hear of home? To never know the love of family? To lose the absurd and glorious identity in one’s tribe? My country?

Nolan gives a speech after the ship he is on rescues some slaves. He is speaking to a midshipman.

  But he could not stand it long; and getting Vaughan to say he might go back, he beckoned me down into our boat. As we lay back in the stern-sheets and the men gave way, he said to me: “Youngster, let that show you what it is to be without a family, without a home, and without a country. And if you are ever tempted to say a word or to do a thing that shall put a bar between you and your family, your home, and your country, pray God in his mercy to take you that instant home to his own heaven. Stick by your family, boy; forget you have a self, while you do everything for them. Think of your home, boy; write and send, and talk about it. Let it be nearer and nearer to your thought, the farther you have to travel from it; and rush back to it when you are free, as that poor black slave is doing now. And for your country, boy,” and the words rattled in his throat, “and for that flag,” and he pointed to the ship, “never dream a dream but of serving her as she bids you, though the service carry you through a thousand hells. No matter what happens to you, no more matter who flatters you or who abuses you, never look at another flag, never let a night pass but you pray God to bless that flag. Remember, boy, that behind all these men you have to do with, behind officers, and government, and people even, there is the Country Herself, your Country, and that you belong to Her as you belong to your own mother. Stand by Her, boy, as you would stand by your mother, if those devils there had got hold of her to-day!”

 

The Country Herself. Your Country.

Perhaps it is because I wear the flag on my shoulder every day. Perhaps it is because I am so familiar with war and the Army. Perhaps it is because I grew up as the son of a preacher and thus have a precondition towards a bit of cynicism.

I’ve always felt a little ambivalent towards patriotism. I avoid overly romantic ideas of country, home, and hearth. If I have to listen to “American Soldier” one more time… It’s just that I’ve heard it SO MANY TIMES already!!! I see the holes in the arguments. I know too well my own flaws and the flaws of those I serve with. I know intimately the darkest side of those casually and without nuance are oft called heroes. It is difficult to not grow cynical.

But then there is this – beyond DC, beyond generals, beyond policy, memorandums, Operations Orders, rank structures, toxic leaders and egos – there is the Country Herself, my Country and I belong to her as I belong to my own mother. It’s true. I will not deny it.

Why do I serve?

Is it for the pension? Tricare? Ego trip? Maybe. Those are certainly part of it. But that’s not why I stay long hours in the prison. It’s not why I give up my weekends and evenings to provide programs and counseling. It’s not what keeps me working with Soldiers who want to give up on life. It’s not what drives me to organize yet another relationship building event. It’s not what gets me up in the morning for another pavement pounding 4 mile run. (Ok, maybe that). It certainly does not give me comfort when my kids miss me and I need to go into work to take care of a former Soldier, now prisoner or another Joe.

No. That does not cut it.

It is the joy of duty. The joy of belonging. It is the call of my Country.

I belong to her.
Epilogue:
Read the whole story. Read how he dies. Read about what Nolan wants on his deathbed. See if it does not move you. The last line of the story is what Nolan wanted on his tombstone:

“On this slip of paper he had written:
    “‘Bury me in the sea; it has been my home, and I love it. But will not some one set up a stone for my memory at Fort Adams or at Orleans, that my disgrace may not be more than I ought to bear? Say on it:—
 
‘In Memory of
 
PHILIP NOLAN,
 
Lieutenant in the Army of the United States.
 
  • HE LOVED HIS COUNTRY AS NO OTHER MAN HAS LOVED HER; BUT NO MAN DESERVED LESS AT HER HANDS.’”

I remember.

Army

I’ve thought a great deal about this today.

Every year Memorial Day comes around and I remember.

I remember the heat and blood. JP8 and cigar smoke. Laughter and pain. Intensity and boredom. That’s war I suppose.

I remember those who died, who never came back.

Again I post this video of a young, overwhelmed chaplain with great intentions and limited skill.

This year, I want to remember someone else. Actually several someones. Every deployment I’ve been on, the tragedy does not end with the re-deployment. For some, home never really feels like home, life just does not readjust. The pain of losing those so close to them just becomes too much and life overwhelms them. There is so much help and love available to them but the blinders of depression, despair, and anguish blocks their vision.

They cannot see. They cannot know.

They are those who have died by suicide. And they are many.

For me, there are four.

I remember.

If a veteran, current service member, or family member is going through those dark waters. They are not alone. There is help for them.

Veterans (or family members can call): 800-273-8255  (Veterans Crisis Line – Active Duty/Guard can call as well)

And Military One Source is always available: 800-342-9647

Memorial Day is about all who have suffered and died.

I remember.