CNN reported the story of a Marine’s suicide, one that the Department of Defense will not count as a casualty or a military suicide. Please view the video report, then return here. One big question haunts Marine’s suicide: Why? – CNN.com.
In the report, CNN quotes one of Clay Hunt’s friends. “Someone described him as an American badass with a heart of gold,” she said, and laughter echoed through the pews. “I think this (description) sums him up rather well. Clay chose to live his life for others. His passion and selflessness were an inspiration to all who knew him.”
Choosing to live your life for others, such as helping in Haiti after your tours in combat zones, and putting yourself in danger to do so, is very much part of being a warrior. It is not an obvious part of average American life.
I wonder if repeated exposure to elevated levels of adrenaline can reset a warrior’s brain chemistry?
Once a warrior has sought help, such as Clay Hunt sought, the road to effective treatment is still risky and long. Medications are slow-acting, have side effects, and may involve several “trials” before the patient and doctor can choose the both the right medication and the right dose. Discouragement, survivor’s remorse, and relapse might all have played a part in Hunt’s death. Maybe he suddenly hit the bottom of a pit that he just couldn’t crawl out of one more time.
Is there anything else that Clay’s friends could have done for him? We all wish we knew the answer to that. I would like to remind returning warriors of their strengths and abilities to withstand that “pit” one more time. Steven Pressfield, a popular writer of military history and historical fiction, says it much better than I can:
By STEVEN PRESSFIELD | Published: APRIL 18, 2011
Chapter 23 Coming Home
But what about us? What about the soldier or Marine who steps off the plane from overseas and finds himself in the scariest place he’s seen in years:
Has everything he knows suddenly become useless? What skill set can he employ in the civilian world? The returning warrior faces a dilemma not unlike that of the convict released from prison. Has he been away so long that he can never come back? Is the world he knows so alien to the “real world” that he can never fit in again?
Who is he, if he’s not a warrior?
The answer may not be as far away as he supposes.
The returning warrior may not realize it, but he has acquired an MBA in enduring adversity and a Ph.D. in resourcefulness, tenacity and the capacity for hard work.
He may find that the warrior skills he has acquired are exactly what he and his family need. And more: that these skills possess the capacity to lift him and sustain him through the next stage of his life and through every succeeding stage. The war remains the same. Only the field has changed.
The returning warrior possesses the Warrior Ethos, and this is a mighty ally in all spheres of endeavor.