OP-ED: America's Broken Promise and Shame: What Now?

By Joseph J. Honick
Joseph J. Honick
Joseph J. Honick

Several years ago, I wrote in these pages that "Troops' Mental Health Is Off the Nation's Radar".   Shamefully, that remains a startling fact!

What jarred me back to the subject was an article in  the Feb. 10, 2014 issue of Time magazine titled "A Troubled Marine's Final Fight":  http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2164226,00.html

As I noted those many months ago, “there were 160 active-duty US Army suicides in the year from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009, according to a Pentagon report…Then the New York Times had a front page headline : Afghan strategy has fresh focus:  targeted killing.”

“And, by the way, men (and women, too) after you have done doing all that targeted killing, be sure to be nice to your family when you get  home…if you do.”

That was then.  The shame of it all has remained and multiplied while many of us in the PR and communications fields worry so much about whether we are sufficiently either respected or paid.

It is  still a fact that for some weird reason, another headline asserted “Army Suicide Rate Has Outside Experts Alarmed.”  Just what is it that either alarms or surprises all the experts and those of us who have the communications power to demand real attention to a crisis we permitted our government to manufacture using our men, women and money to carry on for more than a decade?

Returning to that “troubled Marine” of this piece’s opening, having done the government’s bidding in Grenada, Iraq and Afghanistan and become an effective killer in the process, he returned with reflexes that almost had him seeing targets behind the trees in his neighborhood and actually firing at them….and ultimately trying to do himself in until the cops got to him. 

That left him and his family totally destroyed, and joining thousands of others like him in the process, a reality you did not hear debated or even mentioned in the White House or the United States Congress at any time.

So what is this all doing in a journal like this?

The answer should be clear:  it is in our power as communicators and opinion developers to set aside some time to put those talents to demand attention to this literal emergency that has gone virtually unattended for so long while the problems not only multiply but shame us all by the denial of effort to help fix them.

A first step would be to use our talents to demand political aspirants and residents of powerful political position not only to pay attention to this problem infecting our society but the thousands of individuals we helped to become the victims….and to ask precisely what they will do about it.


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Honick is president of GMA International Ltd., Bainbridge Island, WA.  He is an international consultant to business and writes on a variety of public affairs issues.

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