Soldier In The Hole
I would like to share a story that very much explains the situation that many veterans face.
There is a soldier who is stuck in a hole and can’t get out. An NCO comes by and gives the soldier a shovel and tells him to dig himself out. The soldier tries, but on his own the hole only gets deeper.
Then an officer comes by and tells the soldier in the hole to use the tools his NCO gave him and throws in a bucket. The young soldier in the hole fills up the bucket with the shovel but the hole only gets deeper still.
Another low-ranking soldier comes by and looks in the hole at the soldier struggling to get out and he jumps down into the hole with him. The first soldier says: “What are you doing? Now we are both in a hole and we can’t get out of it!”
The second soldier says: “Don’t worry I’ve been in a hole myself before and I know how to get out.”
The moral of the story is simple, many veterans sometimes find themselves in a hole they can’t get out of on their own, or they didn’t have the tools or experience to overcome the problem so on their own it seems hopeless and the ‘hole’ gets deeper.
Then someone they think will help them out of the hole ‘the NCO’ doesn’t have the proper perspective of the situation and the tools they offer often may not be appropriate to the situation or for the individual. Again, leading to a deeper hole.
Then perhaps along comes another person who often gives advice that is not the answer to the problem and the veteran is left on his own again still in the hole but only deeper.
At some point along comes someone like the last soldier, someone who has been in the hole before and found the answer of how to get out. This is necessary because the veteran couldn’t do it on his own and as a result the w‘hole’ situation, only got deeper.
This is a truism of veteran issues. A veteran who has ‘dropped out’ in crisis feels hopeless and just gets deeper in their hole. Sometimes the offered solutions don’t work for the individual in his/her set of problems. We are all unique humans influenced by our upbringing, our personal beliefs, our experiences and our perceptions.
One person’s challenges are different than another person’s challenges. One solution does not fit all the issues a veteran may be experiencing. The very people who the veteran is led to believe in may have no concept of the unique situation the veteran is facing because that person has not walked in the veterans shoes and experienced all the ‘triggers’ that put him/her in the hole.
In order for true help to be successful, the helping hand has to have been there and done that.
Being in a hole ( homelessness, drug / alcohol problems, family/ martial problems, crisis issues, mental health issues, PTSD, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and flashbacks, etc.) are big problems and even suicidal thoughts are often impossible to solve on the veteran’s own. Many veterans deny they have a problem because they don’t feel comfortable or safe admitting they need help, most of society walks by not even acknowledging the veteran or his problems. Our society looks at people in the ‘hole’ as weak or inferior and often do not have the time in general to offer a helping hand. If the helping hand hasn’t experienced the veteran’s life situation, the advice or help offered may be inappropriate or unsuccessful.
Even family members and significant others in the veteran’s circle are often clueless that a problem even exists because the veteran doesn’t open up to them about it or they don’t understand how serious it is to the veteran.
Things like “Be a man or Be tough” don’t solve the problem, they are only a shovel that makes the hole deeper. Even best Intentions by a person who hasn’t been there are counterproductive, like the bucket in the story, only driving the veteran deeper into the hole of life.
The true help the veteran needs is the last soldier. Someone who is not afraid to jump into the hole with them. Has been there in the hole and worked out by whatever means, a way out of the hole. He gives advice based on experience of being in the same type of hole and does so without personal gain while asking for nothing in return and is able to stand with the veteran on equal ground, been there done that.
I personally have been in the hole as a veteran, having been homeless with PTSD, anxiety, depression and sleep issues. I know the hole, but I have worked my way out of the hole, as have many others before me. It was through the help, love and mercy of God that I was able to meet other veterans who had been in the hole and either were out of it or working their way out. They gave me the hope and encouragement to pull myself up out of the hole. Now I am searching for veterans that are hopelessly deep in the hole with no idea of how to get out and only getting deeper.
I founded Veteran Warrior Outreach to find veterans who are homeless and in crisis or suicidal to help them and their families to climb out of the holes they find themselves in. To show them there is a solution and a way back. They will not do it on their own and they need help and resources to find their way back. They need and deserve all of our help and our resources to be successful, after all, their sacrifices have given us our freedoms, security and wealth and we are bound by honor to help them.
No Vet Left Behind! Should be everyone’s goal and responsibility.
They stepped up to the plate, will we?