Kurt Cobain and the American Soldier

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On April 5, 1994 Kurt Cobain barricaded himself in a room over his garage, put a shotgun to his head, and pulled the trigger. After a long battle with alcohol, drugs, depression, as well as personal and professional strife, the talented and famous lead singer of Nirvana ended his own life. Fueled by booze and drugs, he decided that dying was better than living as he was.

His downward spiral was known. Interventions were scheduled and carried out. Threats to break up the band didn’t work. His wife, who was having her own issues, putting whatever leverage she had to use didn’t work. Not even the prospect of losing custody of his daughter over a year before had been enough to break the hold of his addictions or the demon in his head.

If you die you’re completely happy and your soul somewhere lives on. I’m not afraid of dying. Total peace after death, becoming someone else is the best hope I’ve got.

 
I bought a gun and chose drugs instead.

 

Living is to suffer the herd will walk through life never testing the rules or pushing against fences doing what their told they live and die the “honest” life but the wolf will stray and take on the wrongs with a force unmatched by obsticles he will die a warriors death alone before he ever conforms or gives in to rules that create injustice…a warriors death is what I seek in the valley of all these sheep.…

The only fight I ever lost was the one to myself.

Wait. That’s not right. Oh. Sorry. Those last two quotes? They’re not Kurt Cobain. They’re the words of US Marines Lance Corporal Daniel Wolfe. And they were among his last.

LCpl Wolfe didn’t just commit suicide. He did it on Facebook. He posted messages and pictures detailing the fact that he was cutting himself repeatedly and bleeding out.

He was 29 years old when he died. He was a veteran of the Iraq War and had served in the Corps from 2004 to 2008. He had issues with drugs and alcohol. Like Kurt. He had a wife and daughter. Like Kurt. He had people who loved him and supported him and wanted him to get better. Like Kurt. But in the end, just like Kurt, he chose the other path. He chose to end his life.

There was a report that came out several years ago dealing with suicides by veterans. It was shocking in that its ultimate claim was that 22 veterans a day, 1 every 6 minutes, was committing suicide.

Since the release of that report, there has been much controversy regarding its accuracy. Many claim that it is overreporting the suicides, while others claim it’s underreporting and that the actual number is much higher than 22 a day. But what doesn’t seem to be in question is that our veterans are killing themselves at a higher rate than civilians.

Why?

There are tons of reasons. PTSD being among the biggest. These veterans have often been put under continual and shockingly intense periods of stress. They’ve seen their friends shot, burned, blown up, and injured or killed in a variety of ways. They come home to a country, to a citizenry, that can never understand the horrors they have seen and, in many cases, decries the actions they’ve taken or the cause they fought on behalf of. Many of these veterans turn to drugs and alcohol in a desperate bid to escape their pain. But in the end, drugs and alcohol only fuel the depression, anxiety, and the relentless downward spiral.

Whether or not we all agree on wars and military actions, I would hope that we can all agree that we want better for our veterans.

How?

To start with, the VA has to do better. I think we’re all aware of the issues with the VA at this point. The VA is not just on the front lines of dealing with our veterans’ physical health, but with their mental health as well. It is imperative that the next President, whoever that is, MUST begin the process of fixing the VA. There is no excuse for the stories we’ve seen. Our veterans deserve better. They are owed better.

We, as a society, have to do better. These veterans have given their all for this country. They have faced gunfire and explosions. They’ve cared for refugees. They’ve assisted in humanitarian aid. They’ve lost friends and brothers in ways we can’t even imagine. Then they come home to a society that spends more time arguing decisions made over a decade ago than it does worrying about the care of it’s veterans. That has to stop. There are many good veteran charities out there. Find them. Support them. Here’s a good starting point.

We, as individuals need to do better. We all need to better educate ourselves on what PTSD is and what it isn’t. Remove the stigma. Know when our friends and family are hurting and be able to recognize what is happening. Knowledge is power. If we can better understand what is happening then we are that much better equipped to help. Don’t be afraid of upsetting that friend or family member. Reach out to them. Help them. Better to have them mad at you now then have them eat a bullet later.

On this day many people remember the tragic loss of a talented young musician who gave in to his demons and ended his life. I ask that you also remember Lance Corporal Daniel Wolfe and the thousands of veterans just like him.

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