Our goal is to show people that it’s not just about having PTSD or PTS, it’s about having PTSG, which is post traumatic growth. Not only can you survive post suicide, or post-depression, if you learn how to navigate it, you can actually thrive.
I woke up strapped to a hospital bed, confused, and depressed. As the reality of the situation washed over me, I realized I was, in fact, at rock bottom. As the staff told me that one way or the other, I would be admitted to the psych unit for further evaluation.
Hospitals are cold and sterile places. Amplified as they wheeled me down the corridor to a locked unit that I couldn’t leave. After leaving me alone in the room with just a bed, I looked around and saw on the wall a painting of one lone palm tree on a tiny Island. Looking at that tree, I felt the walls start to close in. I realized that I was like that tree, destined to be alone forever on my tiny island if I didn’t turn my life around.
I became committed at that moment to regaining control of my life. Upon my release, I turned to fitness and martial arts to deal with my demons, focusing on processing my pain. I met so many good people who helped me and guided me on my journey to the productive life that I have today. Thanks to their help, I am proof that you can not only survive with PTS, but you can also thrive with it.
When the second soldier from Frederick committed suicide, I reached out to his brother and looked to find some way to help ease the family’s pain while demonstrating that we wanted to support our fellow warfighters and eliminate the stigma that was associated with suicide. I, along with many of my brothers from the Desert Knights of America MC (and countless additional volunteers) pulled together a 24-hour vigil at the funeral home. When the time came to take Specialist Richardson to his final resting place we escorted his remains to the local Veterans Cemetery where we paid our final respects.
In that moment we vowed that his death would not be in vain- Choosing to start a movement to end Veteran’s suicide. What began a movement to make the world aware of the fact that 22 Veterans were committing suicide EVERY DAY, evolved into so much more. It began with me getting calls to go to visit Vets in distress. These calls came in at all hours of the night and multiple days per week. I met these Veterans wherever they were. Sometimes it was to take guns out of their hands. Sometimes it was to stand in between them and a dumb decision. Other times it was just being an understanding ear for them to vent to – Someone simply who “Gets it”.
I knew that those moments in time were just brief pause buttons on the road to tragedy. That’s where Jennifer Wiles came in. She started navigating the VA process when she helped me through it. With her “Give me a Yes” attitude, she helped Veteran after Veteran navigate the process, find the correct person to meet with, and get the benefits they deserved awarded to them. This is of paramount importance. The number of Veterans who commit suicide that is part of the VA healthcare system is dramatically lower than those who are not. There is no telling the number of lives her efforts have affected, But we knew it wasn’t yet enough. . .
This led to the realization that we needed to transition from awareness to transitional support services for our warfighters. So, we set out to build our very own Platoon Veterans Services Center. It has been said that “You find what you are looking for” it turns out fate brought me to the door of our local Goodwill. There, I discovered that they had completed a community needs assessment that found serving Veterans was one of the top priorities for the community. Much to my surprise, they too, wanted to build a Center to help Veterans.
After a few meetings, we realized that we had a shared vision and passion for helping Veterans as well as complementary strengths to the other’s weaknesses in terms of Veteran transition. We agreed to partner on the project and sought out to build the VERY first of its kind, Platoon Veteran Services Center at Goodwill! This is the first of what will become a future & National program. We have but one simple mission – To be the best in class at transitional support for our nation’s warfighters. EVERYTHING we do is centered around accomplishing that ONE goal.
So, on behalf of myself, the Board of Platoon 22, and every single Veteran your support has helped along the way, let me say Thank You! Because of caring community donors like you, we are ensuring that not only can our Veterans survive transition, but they can also thrive through it. Again, Thank You, and Welcome to our Ranks – We are grateful to have you & your continued support!
Danny Farrar, Co Founder