The aftermath follows an all too familiar script. A post rich with the accomplishments and feeling about the warrior lost, though the reason is vague. Often, “The family requests space.” The reason is never expressly stated but the truth boldly lies in the vagueness. The truth quickly rips through the community, yet no one says it.
The question always arises, “How do you know?” A valid concern that results in almost no other sharing of information these days. The shock is so great it cannot be the truth, it must be a lie, as if the vagueness was not enough to scream it in your face. What follows quickly after are the conspiracies. The public vagueness doesn’t square with the underground information network. How can a warrior that strong do such a thing? And yet, we need not look very hard to read, listen, and know it is true. Most of the deniers express their own deep feelings of despair and thoughts of such an exit, and yet the cognitive dissonance blinds them from the truth.
It brings out the, “I did not know him well, but I know it isn’t true, there is more to it,” or, “I haven’t talked to him in years, but I know he would never.” The barrage of conspiracies begins to burden those who did know, those who did talk to them, who know they did what they did (some having discovered the aftermath themselves). It also brings the, “He took the coward’s way out.” The debates rage in digital spaces as the poster almost always defends their post by saying they have been there more than once, facing the precipice of self-inflicted demise, but they never did it. They have made it through… cognitive dissonance at its finest. It is the Orwellian Double Think.
The silence is what kills us. We deny great warriors their humanity. We remain silent about their flaws and create an impossibly high pedestal. A pedestal where one slip can send them crashing to their death. We deny their humanity, our humanity. We deny that we hurt, that we feel alone, that we are not perfect. We deny we struggle. We deny our humanity because we must rise to the mold of perfection we believe the world asks of us. We deny our humanity because of our ego and pride.
How many more must we sacrifice to our own hands before we say it? Before we admit it. Great warriors kill themselves. They commit suicide. They hurt. They feel. They cry. They stumble. They feel lost. They feel everything… They are us. They are we. We must not remain silent. We must stop denying our humanity.
We must stop letting our ego and pride stand in the way of survival.
Jake Smith is a law enforcement officer and former Army Ranger with four deployments to Afghanistan.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.