JAN 3, 2016 – Soldier found dead inside vehicle at Fort Hood
JAN 5, 2016 – Special Ops Soldier killed in action in Afghanistan
There may be others by the time you read this blog, but these are the ones that made it to my social media feed.
I know death is a reality of our profession – I’ve been to combat. But the battles we fight after redeployment are just as real as the ones we fight on foreign soil. These are the ones we often end up fighting alone. These are the battles we are afraid to tell anyone about – the nightmares, the stress, the depression.
While most Service Members love telling war stories, words choke us when it comes to describing the enemy in the battle in our mind or the tactics used to defeat it.
These men were Soldiers. They were husbands and fathers. These gentlemen were someone’s son, brother and friend. These Soldiers are just the first of many, unfortunately.
According to a Department of Defense (DOD) report released on Jan 7, 2016 the combat military casualties for recent combat operations were: OIF – 4,411 and OEF – 2,215 respectively.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US with over 40,000 suicides occurring every year – Veterans account for 22.2% of suicides according to reports from the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.
Death is inevitable. It is the one thing that we are guaranteed of in life. Death is permanent – it is final. It is not always easy to accept, believe or even understand.
My heart goes out to the families of these Soldiers. My prayer is that these families were prepared as best they could for this situation. While nothing can truly prepare you for the crushing pain of losing your loved one, there are some things that can be done to prepare for a loss of life.
Talk. Talk about death. I know it’s a hard topic to discuss, some would even say morbid. The truth is it comes with the career and is a real possibility in this day and age. Talk details so you understand each other’s desires for your remains as well as your remaining family
Paperwork. So very important at the time of death of anyone, especially a Military Member. So many of your Service Member’s benefits for the remaining family will require paperwork to show proof of their service. Make sure your non-military family members know the location of important documents and are familiar what them (at least know the form numbers).
Benefits. Because of your service to our great country you are entitled to benefits as is your family. Each Military Member’s service varies so their benefits will be specific to the details of their time served. The military and Veterans Affairs have people designated and assigned to families, Casualty Assistance Officers, to assist them during the process of applying for these benefits.
Death is never an easy topic to discuss, but very necessary. Because of our career choice it is a topic discussed often and planned for early in life. Yes, death is a part of life but while you have life #BattleBuddy – live it to the fullest.
Lila Holley is a retired US Army Chief Warrant Officer Four, two time Amazon best-selling author and certified life coach specializing in helping Military Members and Veterans through the emotional process of transitioning from military life to civilian life. Her book ‘Battle Buddy: Maneuvering the Battlefield of Transitioning from the Military’ chronicles her own struggles with depression during her transition process. Contact Lila at firstname.lastname@example.org or at her website http:becomeabattlebuddy.online.