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Journey Therapy® & Veteran Suicide

Journey Therapy® & Veteran Suicide

So, for those of you that follow me personally or through Veterans at Sea, you know that this past weekend I took time off to spend with my family. Even when I am off and relaxing with my family, I am still doing everything I can to help the veteran community. This recent trip was no different.

My family and I left Arizona at zero-dark-thirty on a six-hour drive to Long Beach, California for a quick three-day cruise. I really enjoy being at sea, surrounded by the ocean and traveling to different places. Maybe I should have joined the Navy, but I will always be a Grunt. My plans for this cruise were very simple. I was going to enjoy my day at sea meeting new people, and then spend the day with a battle buddy who moved to Mexico after he got out of the Army.

This particular cruise I meet a new Cruise Director who was in-charge of the entertainment on the ship. My good friend Goose, who had been the Cruise Director for quite some time on this ship, had been moved to another ship in the Caribbean. So, the new Cruise Director Alex was super cool, we met for a drink the first night and talked for a while. He told me that he was going to be hosting a Military Appreciation event the next day and asked if I was going to attend. Even though I had plans to have lunch with the Hotel Director that afternoon, I disappeared to check out the event.

As I walked into the main theater on the ship, I was handed a small American flag. I found a seat and waited for the event to start. Once it started, the first thing they did was had one of the singers on-board sing the National Anthem. Alex then proceeded to go through the different branches and ask that we stand when our service was called. Then he moved onto the different conflicts our country has been involved in from World War 2 to Afghanistan and Iraq. He did spend a few extra minutes to thank those who served in Vietnam that never got a true homecoming.

After he ran through his slide and talked, he passed a mic to those attending to speak if they wanted to. I took the opportunity to speak on the issue of veteran suicide and about The Spartan Pledge. The Spartan Pledge was written by Boone Cutler. “I will not take my own live by my own hand without talking to my battle buddy first. My mission is to find a mission to help my warfighter family”.

To finish off the event, Alex had everyone come up on stage for a group photo that they would be selling on the ship with a military discount. After the photo, I returned to lunch and the Hotel Director asked me what I thought and how many people were there. I told him it was better than what had been offered in the past, and that there were only about ten people. I also told him that I had met other veterans on-board who did not attend the event and in reality, there were probably 40 to 50 military/veterans on the ship. Even with the VA, there is only about 30 percent who even register, not everyone wants to let the general public know of their service.

The following morning while the ship was coming into the port of Ensenada, I was approached by a man who had been at the event but never stood up. He told me that he had heard me talking about veteran suicide and The Spartan Pledge. As we talked, he told me how he had recently gotten out of the Army and was fighting PTSD and depression. He did not want to go to the VA, he said it made him feel weak as a person. He wanted to know more about The Spartan Pledge and Boone Cutler. We talked more in depth and I also introduced him to music therapy in the form of Soldier Hard.

What hit me the hardest of that conversation, was when he told me his plans were to return home after the cruise and end his life.

When I saw him again the last day of the cruise before we got off the ship, he told me that he felt like there was more he needed to be doing. He was leaving that ship in a new light, to go out and help others. It just shows how much of an impact my programs could be making if I was allowed to host then on-board.

Journey Therapy® is the process of providing holistic and alternative ways of dealing with the mental injuries of combat while completely removed from the daily stressors of life. I will continue the fight to provide this program on cruise ships just like they currently offer daily Friends of Bill W (AA) meetings and LGBT meetings.

For more information on Soldier Hard: www.facebook.com/soldierhard

For more information on Boone Cutler and the Spartan Pledge: www.facebook.com/BooneCutlerWarfighter and
www.descendantsofsparta.com