I'm sorry I've been a bit scarce. I received some awful news about someone I cared about and it's bothered me to the point of speechlessness. Which, anyone who knows me will tell you, is pretty rare.
Aaron was thirty-three years old and completely beautiful. A rugged, but gentle, spirit who reflected all of the wonderful qualities of humanity. When he was eighteen, he entered the military with the desire to pay for a college education. After a few years of service, he got that education and re-enlisted to serve as a surgical nurse. Of course, he was sent to Afghanistan...and eventually Iraq. He did two tours, for a total of almost three years of service. During that time, he made friends with just about everyone he met. However, towards the end of his tour, he became crippled by anxiety and depression. He was sent home under a medical discharge. Everyone thought that getting him back to the states would insure that he got the help he required to, somehow, put the horrors of war behind him and start over. Unfortunately, as is too often the case in this administration, that didn't happen.
He came home and entered into therapy...however, the therapy was never regular and, although he was diagnosed with PTSD, I don't believe that he ever got the care he needed. He was given medication that he didn't take and, eventually, slipped through the cracks of an over-taxed veterans' care system. Starting five months ago, we began getting news about Aaron's strange behaviors and anxiety. He couldn't sit in traffic because he was afraid that the car next to him would explode. He decided to remodel his house, but the rapport from nail and staple guns through him into a panic. He priced bullet proof glass for his windows and tried to convince his wife that they should install a bunker. He didn't sleep. He developed a hair trigger temper and lost compassion. He went from being the most caring and empathetic man in the world to being cynical and deeply fearful. He lost hope. And, in the end, he lost his desire to live. He took his own life. None of us who knew him will ever be the same again. Knowing him and watching the cruel spiral that he endured has forever changed us. We will never see his name on a wall or hear a tribute to his brave service, even though - I have no doubt - that he WAS a victim of this war.
How many others are there like him?
How many people have to die?
How did his death make the deaths of those killed on 9/11/2001 any more meaningful?
How did his death help America?
How many more will it take before our President and his cabinet figure out that there is such a thing as "too great a sacrifice" for securing freedoms that were never really in jeopardy?
How can we stand united if we can no longer stand with dignity in knowing that we did everything that was necessary to help our returning soldiers?
He's dead. He's not in heaven. He's not "in a better place". He's just gone. What a waste of human life. And, those of us that knew him and loved his spirit will miss him very, very much.