I've been working on an art project that coincides with my run that brings this to statistic to light. I'm glad that this information has been brought to our attention, but I don't know what we are supposed to do with it.
When we hear this statistic over and over in the news, we become desensitized to the information. We forget the enormity of every single one of those losses, forget that every single one of these men and women were just like us-- human beings. They had dreams, families, knowledge, and wisdom that they will now never have the chance to impart to us.
My performance art project was to paint 22 portraits of 22 veterans who have taken their own lives on 22 rocks and carry them in a backpack with me while I run across the United States. I would start with one rock in CA, adding one every five days, until I ended up with 22 in New York. This was to say that I am willing to carry the burden of this loss. I am willing to feel the weight of this problem myself, because I believe it is something that we all should be feeling. Gandhi said that we must be the change that we want to see in the world.
I truly believe that in our current society and culture, it is not until we personally feel the full weight of problems like these (either through experience or empathy) that we find the impetus to change.
However, I've run into a problem.
I can't find any information on veterans who have committed suicide. If twenty-two veterans are dying every day, then why don't we hear about who they are?
|Daniel Somers: one of the only veterans whose story|
was made available to the public when his parents
published his suicide note.
But...100,000 veterans have committed suicide since September 11, 2001. Shouldn't we be talking more about it?
I might be making an assumption, but this seems like an indicator of a much bigger problem. If we don't study it, how will we ever improve? How will we ever be able to change? How is it that the most dangerous part of the military now is coming home? What does this say about our country and our culture?
How am I supposed to honor 22 fallen veterans on my run when I cannot even find out who they are?