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Memorial Day is a holiday in the United States intended to celebrate the lives, deaths and sacrifices of military service members who gave their all. At it’s root, Memorial Day is meant to be a day of remembrance for those who died during active duty. However, it’s important to remember that not all veterans who die as a result of their service die while fighting in a war or conflict.
Far more may end up dying after they return home. Currently, more than 20 former service members and veterans commit suicide each day. That figure could be much higher, because it fails to take into account self-inflicted deaths that aren’t obvious suicides. These could include car crashes, alcohol-related deaths, and drug overdoses.
As a country, we absolutely fail our veterans. We do not provide adequate help with re-acclimating to civilian life. Service members ready to finish their time may feel pressured to lie about or under-report their mental health symptoms. Even those who receive a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often have trouble accessing the help and support they need to manage the condition.
There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that safe and legal access to cannabis can help reduce suicide rates, particularly among men. However, most veterans don’t have the ability to access cannabis without risking the loss of their VA benefits. Instead, they receive cocktails of medications that may not offer sufficient relief from PTSD.
Today, you should take a moment to remember those who have lost their lives serving our country, as well as those who died after coming home because they didn’t receive adequate support. It’s our job to change the laws and systems in our country to ensure those who devote themselves to the service of our country receive the benefits and support that they need.
For previous Ladybud coverage about veterans, click here.
Photo Credit: Global Jet under CC BY 2.0