Today, “The UnCounted,” an article by Ashley Fantz (a CNN journalist) was published. A compilation of military family members telling their accounts of how the military has impacted their lives, and how at points they wished for the end- the end of their lives.
I am one of those stories. I am one of those that was nearly a number, or wait- I was almost NOT a number?! In the realm of military and civilian, we as military family members are lost. Service members are counted, 22 lost per day to suicide- a number too high. In the civilian realm, as of 2010 according to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death among Americans. “X” is the number of military family members that are lost to suicide- “x” being the unknown.
Suicide preventative programs are established, funded and executed by the numbers accounted for in the other segments; because the numbers are stories, stories that matter. Stories of lives that should be told, and shared- to in a way carry on the life that could see no other end, than to end it all.
Are we reaffirming that the military family members don’t matter, by not counting them? In a culture where we push family readiness programs, are we doing a disservice by not sharing the stories? Are we perpetuating the stigma by pretending it doesn’t exist?
This matters because we do COUNT, we do MATTER, our stories should be SHARED.