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Going to ‘battle’ for our veterans is a promise kept

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After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, then President Bush was quick to announce there would be a swift and devastating military response. Mourning, America was angry. With one fist clenched and the other holding a prayer book, Americans braced for war.

Aa nation coming to terms with tragedy, and wanting to support our military, our leaders made a handshake agreement with those in the world of sports — sports journalists, specifically — to stop using terms such as “warrior,” “doing battle” or “paying the ultimate price” as metaphors to describe sporting events.  

{mosads}After all, we were asking men and women, real warriors, to engage in battles overseas and equating that to sports seemed somehow disrespectful. I’m told the sports community unified around this idea, making it one of their ways to support the folks who were going to war on America’s behalf.

But then they, and the rest of America, let those who made it home among these men and women to return from active duty troubled — so troubled, in fact, that some would lose their lives by their own hands.

This past week, President Trump kept another promise by signing an executive order — the National Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End Suicide — which aims to improve the quality of life for America’s veterans and combat veteran suicide. “To every veteran, I want you to know that you have an entire nation of more than 300 million people behind you,” the president said. “You will never be forgotten. We are with you all the way.”

It’s about time someone did this. Promise kept.

Trump mandated the establishment of a Veteran Wellness, Empowerment and Suicide Prevention Task Force. It will include the secretaries of the departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Energy, Homeland Security, Labor, Education and Housing and Urban Development. These are some big hats. I’m hoping that lots of cattle come along with them.

Now, many organizations, including Turning Point USA, use terminology that equates their activities to a form of “battle” as they engage in a sort of cultural and economic war to determine the kind of life Americans will live in the United States. Will we remain largely free to choose, allowing individuals to pursue their passions and interests, or will we be collectively controlled and forced to live in some sort of dystopian conformity? That’s one fight.

We know that our dedicated military, composed of volunteers, remains willing to risk their lives to protect ours so that, for example, our rallies within America will not be ended suddenly by a suicide bomber trained at a terrorist base camp overseas.

Our service members even protect the lives of people who do not appreciate them or the risks they undertake. They pledge to protect our “outside,” regardless of what takes place inside America. That is the most noble, virtuous calling. Yet, despite their “no-matter-what” service to our nation, we tend to ignore what is going on inside these service members when they return from deployment.

There is some variation in the estimates of daily military suicides. The VA says the number is 20 — veterans and active-duty troops. American Homeless Veterans puts the number at 22. The organization End27 believes it is even higher. But no matter what the number, even if it is just one person, suicide among military service members is worth addressing as nation.

Many private groups raise money to assist our service members. Organizations such as Wounded Warrior Project and the Bob Woodruff Foundation, among others, make a real difference. Their work is built around trying to fill the holes left by our government not doing its job to address holistically the lives of those returning home from service. But part of assisting them also means helping them to preserve their lives.

Our Constitution requires government to provide for a common defense. That obligation includes the need to take care of those who serve, so that their sacrifice is rewarded and the next generation knows that by volunteering their service, they will receive the care they might need.

For too long, we have been showing those considering military service that we do not have their backs. This is a moral failure of citizenship and it is unwise for a nation that relies on a volunteer military. If we don’t care for our warriors, they could stop caring for us. And if that happens, there would be no “us” for whom to care.

Charlie Kirk is the founder and president of Turning Point USA, a conservative nonprofit that aims to educate students on free-market values. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlieKirk11.

Tags American Homeless Veterans Donald Trump United States military veteran suicide Wounded Warrior Project

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