When someone mentions the term Wounded Warrior, the first image that comes to mind is the picture of the brave men and women that have sacrificed their lives or limbs in service to this country. Not many American citizens immediately think of the service members that suffer from mental health issues as wounded warriors, unless an emphasis is placed on the topic or they know someone personally. As human beings, we are a very objective species. We tend to lean towards the "see it to believe it" way of thinking. However, there are times when we "slip" and choose to think and vote subjectively which leads to disastrous consequences. A choice which many Americans are starting to become aware of during these tough times.
Therefore, my question is...why do we have to visibly see wounds on an individual to give them the honor and recognition they deserve for their great service to this country? Or, is it the notion that only those who have seen the harshest of life's trials authorizes the distinguished validation of being a warrior? Well, how about we look at things differently this time around, as the world is now figuratively turned on its axis and is upside down.
As countries fight the global pandemic of the coronavirus in their own way to prevent further death, revive their lifeless economies, and continue to portray lethality on a global scale with thinning resources. How can we as a globe say that we are focusing our efforts solely on the survival of the human race. In addition, to finding ways to recognize those who are working tirelessly to ensure we all have some form of normal life. With this month being Mental Health Awareness month and in some cases also known as Brain Health Awareness Month. A term used by those who want to abolish the negative context of mental health and bring awareness to the functionality of the brain, and how it controls the person's thinking. Let's approach the topic of a wounded warrior from this perspective.
During my time within the US Navy serving as an Independent Duty Corpsman (i.e. Physician Assistant/Nurse Practitioner). I have faced many trials in combat and within "peacetime" environments. Both experiences having their advantages and disadvantages. But, throughout those experiences the one thing that I have learned, is that the one enemy that impacts a warrior more than combat, the lack of resources, or the political games that tend to flow endlessly; is a person's ability to maintain mental toughness during those hard times. Once a person has been impacted mentally, the battle to continue at peak performance has only just begun and the road to success has just turned into an attempt to summit Mt. Everest. A task that has been completed numerous times but with costly measures, as Mt. Everest has taken the lives of over 307 people since 1922.
Picture yourself thrusted into a frigid environment at the bottom of Mt. Everest and the only way out is to reach the light at the top. Oxygen is low. The air is dry. The frost is patiently waiting to bite, as Everest's "death zone" is smiling at you from 26,247 feet above sea level. The wind is blowing and whispering small tones of desperation with screams and fears of victims, words of defeat, and the horrific scenes you witnessed prior to your transition are being played on a loop all around you. What do you do? To stay put would be a sure death. To move forward is an even tougher road, but one that can be accomplished. This is just a small picture into mental health issues during a war. Not only are you tasked with completing the missions at hand daily, but every night you go to sleep you are thrusted into this environment and the light at the top of the mountain is tomorrow.
The essential workers who are battling the coronavirus pandemic are now our brothers and sisters of a peacetime conflict. This is not a war! This is a public health crisis with a virus exposing fallible healthcare infrastructures and political failures on behave of countries across the globe. Subsequently, in any conflict there are those warriors that rise to the occasion and fight until their tanks are on empty and still find reserves to continue on. Mental health treatment protocols need to be on the forefront of public health officials and healthcare professionals outside of direct hands-on clinical care
As during this time of crisis, there are essential workers who are dealing with climbing Everest nightly, just like our brothers and sisters on the front lines in foreign territories. As with all armed conflicts, there are wounded warriors with visible signs of scars and wounds suffered during combat. And yes, the thought of those warriors mental suffering is supported by the evidence of their wounds. But let's not forget about those warriors without visible wounds. No one leaves an armed conflict unscathed. For their bodies are intact but their minds and souls are unrecognizable.
Understand, that this public health crisis we are experiencing will too produce a form of wounded warrior. Warriors who will be casualties of the virus and those who will be visibly intact, but mentally a shattered puzzle. A puzzle that will require a revitalized public health network with the foundation to provide the vitality of support, to put back together those workers who fight on the frontlines to ensure some sense of normalcy in their lives. As a person who knows first hand of these types of struggles. Their souls will rely heavily on this support for the foreseeable future. Since, this is going to have a generational ripple effect.
Climbing Mt. Everest has never been accomplished alone. There is always a partner available to reach out and support those in need at the starting line, during their ascent, and at the summit when the sun is shining and tomorrow has arrived. Enjoy your moment. For your time is here to start the day anew. To our essential workers, who society considered to be those individuals that many looked down upon are now the ones that are keeping America alive. Without the environmental technicians, public transportation workers, delivery drivers, waste disposal operators, food processors and distributors, we would be in a severe state of turmoil. So, during your next grocery store run or interaction with some other form of essential worker. Stop and say, thank-you. My wife and I did that this week and you should have seen the look on their faces. Many of the employees were in shock that people were thinking of them. As the focus in the media and all around has been solely on healthcare workers, a predominately white profession. Whereas, workers that operate public transportation, food distribution centers, mail systems, etc.. are people of color. Whom science states is and will continue to be the hardest hit demographic from the virus.
So, spread the love, the way this virus is spreading death....WITHOUT DISCRIMINATION!!
Like my family told me before I joined the US forces. Remember, that bullets do not discriminate even though some people do. So, work with the knowledge that your life is precious and your impact around those should be based on the value that you are able to provide in their lives. Without minorities working the food production industry there would be no food.....for anyone. Without the healthcare workers treating the sick, survivors would not have a second chance. The bible has a very strict lesson for everyone to learn, even if you don't learn anything else within the great book. The primary lesson is.....
We need each other and a strong relationship with Jesus Christ to reach the promised land.
This is no more evident then now! Reach out and help!!
Be safe, take care, and practice social distancing!