Fighting for those who fight for us

Veterans march in the annual 4th of July parade to honor those who have sacrificed their lives for their country.

Shayne McCartney

Veterans march in the annual 4th of July parade to honor those who have sacrificed their lives for their country.

Morgan McCartney, Business Manager

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Every year, more than 6,000 veterans die by suicide. Although these brave men and women take the pledge to protect and defend their nation at all costs, they come home with feelings of neglect and suicidal thoughts.

Once known as shell-shock, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) became a diagnosable disorder in the 1980s, but has been a burden to the minds of veterans for centuries. Exposure to trauma, death, and other stressful events can cause this disorder and bring these once fearless soldiers down into their darkest places. Now veterans are committing suicide at a higher rate than ever before, with about 20 veterans taking their own lives everyday.

According to the National Center for PTSD, “Veterans with PTSD had an approximately 4 times higher suicide rate than Veterans without PTSD.” However, there is a special program that hopes to change this narrative for veterans.

The Fit-Ops Foundation is a non-profit organization focused on re-building the confidence and strength of U.S. Veterans. Founder, Matt Hesse, created this program after serving in the military himself.

“I understand the commitment and sacrifice our veterans have made to keep us safe. I’ve seen firsthand how hard the transition from service and re-entry into civilian life can be,” he said. “I launched the Fit-Ops Foundation in 2016 to transform the lives of veterans though fitness,” said Hesse.

This mission caught the eye of notorious WWE wrestler John Cena. While Cena has been an avid supporter of the Make a Wish Foundation, he also decided to lend a hand to the Fit-Ops foundation. “Cena spoke about the need of cultivating a community where veterans and those who have served their country get the recognition and appreciation they deserve,” reported Fox News.

Cena’s involvement in this program stems from his gratitude for veterans and the understanding of this problem. Not only are veterans being ignored by the public, a large number are also not receiving the mental health care they deserve. According to the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, “Approximately 62 percent (1,218,857) of all separated OEF/OIF/OND Veterans have used VA health care since October 1, 2001.”

Matt Hesse shares in these frustrations and sees his foundation as a way to solve this failing system. “Today, there is not adequate infrastructure or services to help veterans transition to civilian life from military service,” Hesse told Fox News.

Sharing in these concerns, Kentrell Wilson, father of senior Ciyanna Wilson, believes mental health care needs to be a priority. Wilson has been serving in active duty for 20 years and understands the importance of mental health facilities for veterans.

“While many soldiers return home from war and appear to be fine, traumatic events seen during combat causes PTSD. By providing adequate care through mental health specialists, I believe soldiers and veterans can reduce the negative effects associated with PTSD,” said Wilson.

Veterans deserve a comfortable life to come home to after all they have done for their country. Joining groups like Fit-Ops can restore purpose within veterans, but a solution for their mental health problems needs to be created.

If current lawmakers cannot make a difference, it is time to stand up for the speechless and make it for them.

Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255