A great video by La Res

I am lucky enough to call Lorrell Manning a good friend of mine. Lorrell is a the lead singer of the band “La Res” and is the Writer, Director and one of the Producers of the film “Happy New Year”. This is a music video from one of the songs “This Road” from thier latest album. Joe Harrell is also a friend and besides being the military advisor on the film, this is him playing the distressed veteran in the video. The song already has a strong message to raise awareness of PTS, now with these images of the video I think it has an even stronger message. 

 

Enjoy This Road…

 

Today’s “If you only read one Blog posting today”

….then this one should be it.

My very close friend CJ has been fighting the demons again and this time they crept closer to winning. But thanks to good friends, an awesome wife and other family members he has fought back with vengeance and won the battle.

CJ has opened his soul to the world, not to say look at me, but to say it can happen to anyone and hopefully anyone else out there considering the same will learn from his example and make the call to get help.

Please take a few minutes and head over to http://www.vamortgagecenter.com/blog/2010/05/23/ptsd-treatment-were-not-quite-there/ to read his story.

Stay Strong brother, you know the Bouhammer is always here to cover your six….


O’Lord

O’Lord save me from my own abuse,
O’Lord help me to, see the truth
I’ve been blind for so many years, O’Lord

O’Lord help me be a better man,
O’Lord please help me understand
Why we all must hurt like this, O’Lord

Hard to keep the faith when I’m falling
Hard to see your face when I’m crawling
Hard to keep the faith when I’m falling down
With no one around

O’Lord help me to control my range
O’Lord tell me its not too late
I been angry for way to long, O’Lord

Oh God help me get my head on straight
Oh God take all this booze away
I’ve been locked in a drunken haze, O’Lord

Hard to keep the faith when I’m falling
Hard to see your face when I’m crawling
Hard to keep the faith when I’m falling down
with no one around

Doing this alone is not working out
Bruisin, broken bones are keeping me down
I need some direction, need it right now
I’m falling down, I’m falling down…

Hard to keep the faith when I’m falling
Hard to see your face when I’m crawling
Hard to keep the faith when I’m falling down
With no one around

If you were to read above you may think it is the poem from a person under the control of drugs or booze. Or you may think it is the poem of a veteran that suffers from PTSD. In fact it could be either. Personally I think it speaks to many who have returned from war, any war. It could be the poem of a veteran of WWII, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan. You can see the pain, the struggles, the cries for help all from the same person. They know the right thing to do, but they can’t do it themselves. They want help, but probably don’t know who to ask or are afraid to ask. Maybe it is their position in life, or their rank in the military, or they are scared of being perceived as weak.

It is no doubt a prayer to a higher power, yearning for help, for assistance, for a second chance.

However it is not a poem, per se. They are lyrics. Lyrics to the song O’ Lord by Smile Empty Soul. Sean Danielson penned these a while back as he wrote the song for their album Consciousness and I think it speaks to the pain, anger and trials that many veterans face today. I have talked to Sean about this song and I don’t thing he realized its relevance when he wrote it. Either way, his hand was guided to write these lyrics and I am glad it was, because I personally feel the impact of these words reaches further than he will ever know.


ARMY MAJOR GENERAL SHARES PERSONAL STORY TO BATTLE SUICIDE STIGMA

By Jessica Maxwell

FORSCOM Public Affairs

“In suffering, we either find ourselves or we destroy ourselves.”

Quoting from Oswald Chambers’ devotional, Maj. Gen. Mark Graham, U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7, told the story of his family’s personal experience with suicide and tragedy, and how they now share their past to help others.

Graham and wife, Carol, agreed to share their personal story as a closing to Army Suicide Prevention Month, having lost their son Kevin to suicide in June 2003. Seven months later, the Grahams lost their other son Jeffrey, who was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Khaldiyah, Iraq.

During his introduction of Graham, Gil Gilleland, FORSCOM deputy director of personnel, said he is proud to call Graham a mentor and a friend.

“When Maj. Gen. Graham found out I had a personal history of a family member who committed suicide, he reached out to me and my sister,” Gilleland said. “He knows you learn to accept it but you never forget. You never get over it.”

Following a moment of silence to remember the Soldiers killed and wounded, Graham encouraged the audience of more than 300 to honestly acknowledge the effect suicide has on the Army and to raise awareness of untreated depression.

“As an Army and as a Nation, we must get in front of suicide,” Graham said. Graham emphasized that in the past fear and ignorance created a stigma of suicide, one that has prevented recognition of the warning signs of depression. He added that just saying the word “suicide” invokes negative perceptions and judgment, and that these feelings need to change.

“Suicide – just hearing the word makes people cringe,” Graham said. “It makes people want to leave the room or leave the conversation.” Graham continued by saying when people have these thoughts, they are hurting and they need to be helped, not judged.

“I’m here to tell you we cannot be quiet any longer,” Graham said. “We cannot take that hushed tone when speaking of suicide and we cannot ignore the warning signs.”

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Maj. Gen. Mark Graham speaks openly about mental health and his family’s personal experience with suicide. Calling it a sign of strength, Graham encourages Soldiers and Families to seek help with mental illness.
U.S. Army photo by Jessica Maxwell, FORSCOM Public Affairs

BEFORE THE DEVASTATING NEWS

Reflecting on family history, Graham said he met wife Carol after college and with their three children, Jeffrey, Melanie and Kevin, they traveled the globe on military assignments. Over the years, Graham said he has learned many lessons on life, leadership, management and success.

“The single most important lesson I’ve learned is that no one is isolated from hardship,” Graham said. Before the loss of their sons, Graham said they had a “Walt Disney family life,” saying that all three children were students at the University of Kentucky and even shared an apartment.

Then, “with one phone call, our world as we knew it was gone,” Graham said. “We would never be the same.”On June 21, 2003, they lost son Kevin to suicide. A top ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) cadet, Kevin was studying to be an Army doctor. Graham said Kevin was a scholarship student battling depression who stopped taking his medication because he did not want the Army to know of his illness. At the time, Graham and wife Carol were overseas stationed in Korea.

“We blame ourselves for not recognizing the warning signs, for not realizing that Kevin’s depression was a true medical illness — not just a sad feeling,” Graham said.

Graham and his wife realized that in order to keep living, they had to find a way to channel their grief. They focused on raising awareness of untreated depression and setting up suicide-prevention programs on college campuses.

“We somehow knew that something good had to come from Kevin’s death,” Graham said. Graham said their daughter Melanie tried to continue with her studies and son Jeffrey, a recent engineering graduate, prepared for an upcoming Army deployment.

On Feb. 19, 2004, Graham recalls getting ready for work when wife Carol read on the Internet that two Soldiers were killed near Fallujah, Iraq. “Never in a million years do you ever believe it could be your son,” Graham said. “Not again – it could not be true.”

Remembering the devastating realization that the family had lost one son, Graham said the fact they had now lost both sons was beyond comprehension.

Graham said his family was grieving so deeply, they did not believe they could continue serving the Army. Graham was convinced it was time to retire. Sitting down for morning coffee, Carol read a morning devotional and looking at her, Graham realized she had tears flowing down her face.

“I will never forget the way she choked back her words as she began to read to me the devotional from March 11,” Graham said. The devotional seemed directed at the Grahams, describing their exact feelings of emptiness and loss, encouraging them to continue on and use their grief to help others. The Grahams realized they were meant to continue serving Soldiers and Families.

 

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Carol Graham, the wife of Maj. Gen. Mark Graham, answers a question from the audience, openly recalling her own feelings about son Kevin’s depression and suicide.
U.S. Army photo by Jessica Maxwell, FORSCOM Public Affairs

ONE DAY AT A TIME

After six years, Graham said he sometimes wakes up wondering if it was all a horrible dream. Now, he said, they live one day at a time. Needless to say, it has been difficult for the family, watching the welcome home ceremonies of Soldiers and celebrating the marriages, birthdays and graduations of friends.

“It left us always wondering how the world could even turn without our boys in it,” Graham said.

Graham said they faithfully attended church, holding back their tears as others’ prayers were seemingly answered. Outside, the world did continue turning, as other Soldiers were killed in action, while others were killed by suicide.

“It occurred to us that maybe this was the reason we were meant to continue to serve,” said Graham. Trying to comfort those people, Graham said an amazing phenomenon occurred: they received more healing and help than they gave. Gradually, he said, they began to smile and laugh again.

“The more we talked about Jeffrey and Kevin and shared stories with each other, the more we realized they really weren’t gone at all,” said Graham. “They are so much a part of us.”

Graham recalled a very personal moment at his promotion ceremony. The general promoting him had each of the boys’ names engraved on the stars. “As he pinned the stars on me, he said, ‘Your boys will always be with you,’” Graham said. “As a general officer, I now wear the stars on my uniform and I symbolically know that both of my boys are wherever I go.”

Graham said there will always be a hole and a void in his heart but sees this as strength. “Everything we do is in memory of our sons,” said Graham.

DEDICATING THEIR LIVES

Pledging to use Kevin’s death as a way to raise awareness about untreated depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide, Graham said he and his wife are compelled to speak out on behalf of all those suffering from these illnesses.

“We’ve got to encourage people to seek the assistance they need without the fear of embarrassment or retribution,” said Graham. “We must do this to save lives.”

Reflecting on the training of Soldiers and their Families, Graham said his family has realized they need to take their training to another level, a level of support and reinforcing strong values. Removing the terrible stigma of suicide is a top priority and Graham stressed that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

During his previous assignment at Fort Carson, Graham attended a senior leadership conference. At the conference, he explained that today’s all-volunteer Army is different from the Army of the past and there needs to be a new school of thought in the way Soldiers are cared for and treated.

Nearing the end of his talk at Forces Command’s G-1 atrium with full-capacity attendees even listening from the balconies, Graham enlisted the help of all present to empower the Army and civilian communities with the education needed to break through the stigma surrounding suicide. Graham asked that everyone remain vigilant in suicide prevention and become knowledgeable of the warning signs of depression.

“It has been said that depression is the slow bleeding of the soul,” said Graham. “Be the tourniquet that stops the bleeding of these priceless souls.”

MGGraham_ (13)x

Addressing the gathered crowd, Maj. Gen. Mark Graham shares his family’s experience with suicide and
tragedy. After losing son Kevin to suicide in June 2003, son Jeffrey was killed by an IED in Iraq seven months later.
U.S. Army photo by Jessica Maxwell, FORSCOM Public Affairs

Milblogger and Friend CJ Grisham Interviewed About PTSD

My very close friend, fellow milblogger, fellow senior NCO and You Served Radio co-host CJ Grisham was recently interviewed by a local news station about this recent decision to “come out” about the issues he is dealing with from his tour in Iraq and how he is trying to seek help.

If you aren’t lucky enough to know CJ as well as I do, here is a chance to look into his soul and see what a great man, soldier and leader he is.

Good Friend and Blogger CJ Grisham Interviewed about PTSD and Suicide Prevention

My very good friend, fellow Sr. NCO and co-host on You Served Radio, CJ Grisham was featured in an interview last week on a local Huntsville, AL TV station. The purpose of the interview was to talk about Major General Mark Graham’s speech to the soldiers at Redstone Arsenal on the topic of PTSD and Suicide Prevention. Something that MG Graham knows personally and all too well.

Please take a moment to watch. Click HERE if the video below does not work

A post you should read today

Teflon Don is a long time blogger that I have a loose connection with via The Sandbox. This soldier/writer has a heck of a way with words. He does not post as much anymore but when he does they are something to read. The  one he has up now is about a friend of his who has gotten himself into trouble. It serves as an example of how things go wrong when a returning combat vet does not get the help he needs. It is called Shadows of War. I encourage you to click below and read it.

http://acutepolitics.blogspot.com/2009/07/shadows-of-war.html