I haven’t posted on Remembrance Day via social media or blogs ever. I didn’t wear medals or distinguishing markings at my local cenotaph for years after release. I locked myself in my own head and only surrounded myself with the people that I felt safe letting in.
I thought I was just being antisocial, but it turns out that the vast majority of the people I served with were doing this as well. There’s an injury at play here that shows itself in ways that people don’t always understand. A quote from a close friend, “I’ve never been more ashamed and proud of the same thing in my life”. That sums it up really well.
One of the biggest traumas for service personnel, is the removal from our community. Our tribe. Being set adrift alone is terrifying, especially when you’re the one rowing the boat. The answer, for me anyway, was to expand my tribe. I started going to outdoor markets in my home town of Lunenburg, started getting involved in my community and supporting local business. Getting involved with my children’s schools, and the parents of kids the same age. As a result, I’ve started to build my tribe again.
The people in this community that consider themselves my friends (you know who you are) accept the people from my unit as their own. These people would literally build a boat to come find me if I were ever adrift again. I feel loved, appreciated and safe here. My family (blood and chosen) have quite seriously saved my life. You’re heroes. Every single one. You’ve enabled me to find my footing again.
My veteran community is suffering to the tune of 15 more suicides this year alone (that I know of). Five of those since August. Through the experience and support of my new community, we’re building a boat to look for survivors. It’s strong and it’s fast and we’re coming to find you.
Seth: Wandering Jester and devoted friend. Hunting images like game on a landscape. Sharing meals, story and adventure. Weaver of words and kicker of stones.