Opening Words from Sun. November 11 by Bud Deraps

This Veterans Day, instead of a few minutes of respected silence, we are celebrating Let Freedom Ring. Instead of ringing bells, we are drumming. We want our veterans to hear our appreciation for all they have done for our country.

For centuries, this has been a form of celebration for veterans returning home in victory. Many Americans believe this is the case for us, today.

I want to share with you a few of the facts greeting our troops on their arrival home.

A recent CBS News report published in an Injury Prevention article that showed that suicide rates among US Army personnel increased 80% between 2004 and 2008.

Another recent Marine Times article said that more than 1 in 10 Marines who deployed overseas reported having suicidal thoughts or plans to attempt suicide.

Facing his 9th deployment, Army Ranger Staff Sgt. Jared Hagemann killed himself. His wife Ashley said it was just horrible. He would just sit there and cry. He tried to come to grips with what he had seen and done on his 8 deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He told her there was no way any God would forgive him and that he was going to hell. He could not live with that any more, and had to end his suffering.

More U.S. soldiers and veterans have died from suicide than from combat wounds over the last 2 years. And as a special way of thanking those who served, Texas Republicans want to make it more difficult for young homeless and traumatized veterans to vote.

A year ago, our Military issued their official position on suicides in the service. They said the increase in suicide deaths is one of the most distressing issues facing military leaders who want to reduce the rates among active-duty service members. More than 2000 of them have killed themselves in the past decade, including 295 last year compared with 153 in 2001.

The difficulty, however, is in identifying which initiatives work best and deciphering the multiple triggers than can lead to suicide within the armed services. The most commonly identified risk factors according to the leaders are relationship issues, work-related problems, financial pressure, legal concerns, alcoholism and substance abuse. Not one word about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD – the number 1 cause of troop suicide. (I will leave that one for you to figure out)

Our wars in the Gulf are disabling our veterans in different ways than in previous wars. Our bases are located close by, or in the cities and larger towns. That leaves our troops among the civilians.

Not able to know friends from foes, they may be friends in the day, and a possible terrorist at night, planting roadside bombs. In the day time, they can mingle among the crowds that may contain small groups of troops who are vulnerable to suicide bombers.

As a result of this situation, the military is demanding that any man, woman, or child, that they suspect is carrying a bomb, is to be shot on sight. They are told that they are saving their own as well as their buddies lives and if they do not obey that order, they will be reprimanded severely.

Serving in these conditions,who knows how many victims they are returning home with, for following orders.

Their grief and guilt can be extremely emotionally disabling and more that many cannot possibly bear.

Instead of ringing bells, or drumming a few minutes one day a year, please, put yourselves in the place of these suffering loved ones and work to end these wars instead of starting new ones..