Content Warning!

This blog on occasion addresses depression, death, suicide and other sensitive themes. Continue at your own discretion in reading the content.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

When Things Connect

I continue to work on editing a story I wrote last November. I went through it a couple of times already but in the most recent run though I have added more detail and removed some sections. The story I have been working on is about my journey through depression and suicide. Something I have been writing about and exploring for years.

When the 4th of July rolled around and military themed movies filled my TV screen, admittedly, not as much as they have in the past, I couldn't find a single channel showing the movies I used to watch with mom and dad, mostly dad, as a kid.  No one was showing The Dirty Dozen (1967), Kelly's Heroes (1970), PT 109 (1963), The Green Berets (1968), Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), or any others that were watched on a regular basis as a kid. I ended up watching American Sniper (2015). 

I then hit YouTube and binge watched episodes of Shift Fire with Israel Wright and Cameron Fath.  Those guys are awesome! The channel in their words, is an "exploration and appreciation of military culture"! I have been following them for over a year or so but somehow missed some videos. I was catching up. Somehow, I had forgotten they had a podcast too.  During one of the videos, I had noticed that Israel was wearing a t-shirt that got my attention.  Mind you, during this time period I'm editing my story which is about suicide. The t-shirt said, "Do Not Give in to the War Within: End Veteran Suicide".

I could see there was some kind of logo on the sleeve of the shirt, but I couldn't see what it said.  Given my curiosity, I hit the internet!  I found a knock-off of the shirt Israel was wearing but continued until I found the exact one. It led me to a site called Til Valhalla Project. They make plaques for fallen servicemen and deliver them anonymously to recipients through a network of volunteers.  They had a whole bunch of t-shirts with messages that spoke to me, so I ordered a few shirts.

In another Shift Fire video, Israel wore another shirt that said "Mission 22" on it. I had no idea what that meant but when I was on the website of the Til Valhalla Project, they mentioned Mission 22.  So off I went to learn about them too. I had no idea that 22 veterans commit suicide each day. Mission 22 provides other resources as well to veterans and their families.

To think, I learned all of this from a t-shirt!  I couldn't leave Cameron in the cold and made sure to order a shirt from his apparel company, KITGOD as he is a veteran too. 

When I was a senior in high school all the military recruiters made themselves known.  Especially, considering I was a girl who had taken two years of electronics.  That was considered untraditional back then and I must have been a flipping unicorn to them. I did spend a lot of time hanging out with my friend Trish who was in ROTC, so that may have played a part since I helped her hanging the flag every morning.

My dad served in the military (Air Force) and actually told me to not consider that as a path. He told me not to do it.  I'm not sure why. It may have been because I would be the first person on either side of the family to go to college.  Plenty of family members had served - Air Force, Navy, and Army.

After learning about the organizations from a shirt Israel wore, I have to admit it hit me. I know the dark place. I know what the battle within is like.  I must admit a part of me wanted to share my story, but I have been writing my story for years, sharing it in pieces. I do have to admit that a part of me wanted to say 'thank-you' but can't really put into words why.

I think buying the shirts and when I start wearing them will take care of the feeling of saying 'thank-you' but I'll be doing it in a different form. I am really glad that my binge watching of Israel and Cam led me down this path. Things came full circle. 

Today's music treat is Within Temptation's "Stand My Ground".  Crank the volume on this one and enjoy.

Rock on!

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