Joe Lovelace sent this article around. It's a good read. He says: "Excellent article describing the need for the veteran peer
to peer network that was established by SB 1325 (Sen. Nelson), 81st
Legislative Session and implemented statewide by DSHS through contracts with
the Local Mental Health Authorities. The Texas Coordinating Council for
Veterans Services in its report, October 1, 2012, recommended the state
continue its commitment."
At War - Notes from the Front Lines
November 27, 2012
In Defense of the
Small Unit, in Battle and After the Fighting Ends
By THOMAS GIBBONS-NEFF
A few weeks ago, it was my friend's first anniversary of when he was struck
by a roadside bomb in Sangin, Afghanistan. To celebrate his recovery, we pooled
as many members of the old platoon together as we could to share in a night of
That night I learned that it wasn't a party only for my friend, but also for
all of us. That night, we were monuments to ourselves - each of us a tribute to
what we had survived. We were monuments to the adventures we shared, the lives
we lived and the friends we lost.
We came together in honor of a friend, but I think we came together because
we needed to. It had been too long since we had reminded ourselves that we did
exist, that we weren't just pictures on a computer screen and that we had
fought and bled and lived through some of the worst times of our lives
Shakespeare says it best in "Henry V": "We few, we happy few,
we band of brothers; for he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my
Today, though, it seems that this quote's theme has lost some of its sway.
Of course, men and women are still fighting in Afghanistan and other parts of
the world, and of course, those bonds are still being forged. But battles with
post-traumatic stress disorder and moral injury appear to be fought, more often
than not, by the individual. It is the individual that sheds his uniform and
leaves his unit. It is the individual who is left to deal with the residue of
The separation from a small cohesive unit comes as a shock to many, as it
certainly did for me. One day you're on base in a unit that has felt every loss
together as family would, not to mention you reside in a close-knit community
where mind-sets, attitudes and professional relationships are based on shared
Then one day you're driving off base for the last time, and that physical
support network of the barracks and familiar faces is gone.
You are cast into a world that is now based on your decisions. The mission
of the unit is immediately removed from the question. Your immediate future is
based on where you are going to go, and what you are going to do. The
collective is gone and as the months pass, you find yourself looking wistfully
through pictures of yourself on deployment - your friends crouched beside you,
rifles held, eyes alert. You can feel the lingering swell of something
momentous that you were once a part of, but now it feels like a dream.
This isolation can be overwhelming; our new environment is populated with
people who can only listen and nod while we find ourselves craving someone who
can just remind us that we actually went to war.
In the end you're left with pain from the bad days, the friends you can't
call, the things you can't take back. Sure, you can talk to a psychologist, but
it's tough. What do they know? They weren't there.
This is why the concept of the small unit must exist after one leaves the
military. This is why it is so important to stay in contact with one another.
In a small unit, you deal with challenges as a collective. No man is trained to
take on an entrenched machine gun alone. You overcome as a team.
This mentality can and should be applied to mental wellness long after
leaving the service. Check on your soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. Just
because they've left your squad, it doesn't mean that the squad has left them.
How would you feel if an old member of your squad committed suicide
tomorrow, and the last time you talked to him was that last day he was on base
two years ago? It's a jarring question, but we all know it has happened.
It is unacceptable to pretend that once our friends leave the military,
their issues are theirs alone to deal with. That's not how we would have dealt
with problems in garrison, and it sure is not how we would do things in combat.
As war fighters, leaders and friends, we can always do more.
We must do more.
Check out TexVet and the Military Veteran Peer Network to find a buddy near you