Buddy Check

For several years veterans have implemented #BuddyCheck22.  “Buddy Check” is a pretty straight forward term, check on your buddy.  The “22” is in reference to the 22 veterans a day that take their own lives.  Veterans make up a fifth of all suicides in the United State every year.  Veterans who were tired of loosing their brothers and sisters in arms to suicide at this alarming rate, decided to take action.  They implemented the Buddy Check 22 system utilizing social media.  On the 22nd of every month across many social media platforms someone will simply post “Buddy Check” and the response is overwhelming.  Veterans will reply “check” and that is all it takes.

From this simple phrase, a series of movements have spawned.  The most prevalent one is “22 Until None”.  The focus of these movements is to minimize or eliminate the veteran suicides and to let others know that there is someone out there that cares about them.

This movement has lost steam as time has gone by, but that does not deter veterans from checking on their friends.  It is imperative that we continue to push this movement and expand it to all who fight their demons.  We need to check on everyone and ensure that they are OK.

While the 22nd of each month will focus on veterans, the 1st of the month should be when the rest of society focuses on everyone.  Checking on your friends and family on the 1st and letting them know that they have made it through yet another month, will give them a sense of accomplishment and to look forward to the month ahead.

Let us continue to move forward in removing the stigma associated with PTSD and mental illness.  It is our responsibility to be our neighbors keeper and check on them to ensure that they are doing well.

On this, the 22nd of the month, I ask you; are you OK?  If not, please let me know and we can talk (trek4ptsd@yahoo.com subject “I’m not OK”).

#TrekOn

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number
  • 1-800-273-8255
Advertisements

An Emotional Awakening; My Confession

A few weeks ago as I, Trek4PTSD founder Raul, was driving through Warner Springs, California (PCT miles 109.5 and 111.4) began to get very emotional.  But I kept driving and watching for hikers.  I saw a young hiker leaving the Community Center and offered a ride.  Not paying attention to my exact location and never having known where the Community Center was at, I offered him a ride to the trailhead.  A few seconds into the ride we saw another hiker and he mentioned that he might be on the trail.  That is not possible, I thought to myself, after all the only time the trail is visible from the road is immediately after the trailhead.  After a quick assessment of our location I realized that indeed we had just passed the trailhead and I really did not need to give him a ride.  But he appreciated it and so did I.  The young Army veteran thanked me for the ride and was on his way.

After I dropped the young veteran off, I texted my wife.  I told her I was about to cry.  In response, she called me immediately.  “What is wrong?” were her first words to me and I could not hold back the tears.  My response was one of uncertainty since I did not know what was wrong.  All I knew was that it had to do with the PCT and the fact that I just drove by Warner Springs.  She responded by telling me that “it[the PCT/trail] is part of you and you need to get back out there.”  The sentiment was heard, but finding the time is difficult with so much to do before I retire from the Marine Corps at the end of the year.  Our conversation was short and I soon got over the tears, but not the emotion.

This event was a trigger, and some parts of my PTSD, anxiety and depression started to come back.  Over the next couple of weeks I watched “Wild” and “A Walk in the Woods”, again.  I started watching hiking videos on YouTube again.  I spent more time on the PCT pages on Facebook.  And I teared up along the way.

My love of hiking had not diminished.  However, I understood that due to obligations, family issues, work and my impending retirement that the trail had to work.  For almost two years I had suppressed my need to just walk in the wilderness.  On that day in Warner Springs all of the bottled up yearnings to hike exploded.  I needed to get back out, it was just a matter of  finding the time.

A week later I looked at the fire closures and found that the section between Hwy 74(Paradise Café) and Idyllwild was passable to some degree with a detour.  The detour was no problem, I would still hike the section.  Now to find the time.  With Memorial Day a little over a month away, it seemed like the perfect time.  And so it was decided.

This was my emotional awakening, and with it a new found sense of purpose.  The Trek4PTSD would continue stronger than when it first began.  More efforts to raise awareness, more content to bring to the masses, different ways to get the information out there.  Awareness starts with one step and that was my first step on this new phase of the Trek4PTSD.

Mental Illness is something we all need to talk about, specially in this day and age.  It is my goal to do so even if I have to stay up at night and work 3 jobs to do it.

Help me raise awareness, help me help those who battle their demons in silence, help me show the world what PTSD and Mental Illness is.

Thank you and Semper Fi,

Raul

“The woods are calling and I must go” -John Muir

#Trek4PTSD #PTSDAwareness #PTSD #MentalIllness #PCT

PTSD is Like a Long Hike

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a journey, one that can only be done alone.  However, it is not one that does not require help.  At some point you will require assistance from those who love you, those you meet along the way who are going on the same journey as you will provide comfort knowing that you are not the only one going through it, and even strangers will pick you up and help you out.  But it is you, and only you, who has to take the next step, and the one after that, and so on.  The same goes for a long hike.

As you journey down the path of PTSD you will be faced with steep ascents and challenging descents, cold nights and sweltering days, pain in your body and your mind.  And then, at the end of the day you find yourself looking at a beautiful sunset.  When you summit the mountain, you will behold views only few people have seen and that inspire awe.  On the end of your descent you will find refreshing lakes, springs or rivers.  And the next day you will awake to a beautiful new day.

As the days, weeks, months go by, you will change.  And as time goes by, you may be faced with the urge to quit, but you will not.  You see those on the journey with you, those who love you, and those who don’t know you but still love you and you will continue.

It is you that must put one foot in front of the other and take the next step.  It is you that must not give up, but continue down the trail no matter how hard it may get.  It is you that must keep going and never quit.  And when the journey is over, you will come out stronger, better and happier.

The trail changes you, PTSD changes you.  Both are difficult and trying.  Both will challenge you and make you ache, sometimes to the point of wanting to quit.  And both are full of rewards if you have the will, and you do, to see it through.

Never quit, never surrender, never give up.  Keep walking no matter how heavy your pack is and do it at your own pace.  You will prevail and you will be a better person for going on.

#TrekOn and you will win.  You are never alone.