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 (firstname.lastname@example.org subject “I’m not OK”).
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number
For those who suffer from PTSD the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) wrote a wonderful article about 27 things you need to know about PTSD. Amongst those are:
- No matter how long it’s been since your trauma, treatment can help.
- Sexual assault is more likely to result in symptoms of PTSD than are other types of trauma, including combat.
- Social support is one of the greatest protective factors against developing PTSD after trauma.
- Research suggests that social support is an even more important resilience factor for women than men.
- Trouble sleeping is a core feature of PTSD, so it is important to address sleep problems in PTSD treatment.
- Getting help for PTSD early can prevent problems from expanding to other parts of your life.
- Evidence-based treatments for PTSD include psychotherapy (or “counseling”) and medications.
- Many people with PTSD also experience chronic pain or other physical health symptoms.
- PTSD often co-occurs with depression or other mental health symptoms.
It is also important to know that those with PTSD cannot help their behavior. The trauma that sufferers of PTSD have endured has changed them. This makes it difficult for them to function as “normal” people do. They do not hate those around them, they actually need you to help them. PTSD creates a sense of isolation, because of this your presence matters to them. They are coping with their problems and at times it makes it difficult for them to control their behavior. Because of this they cannot just “get over it”, they have to work through this and fight their demons.
Knowledge is power, and the more people that know these things the more we can help those who suffer with PTSD.
Awareness starts with one step. Help spread awareness one step at a time.
It may seem like snake oil, but a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spending 90 minutes on a hike actually reduces ruminations. This is wonderful news for those suffering from PTSD and Mental Illness.
How does hiking help? An article from Collective-Evolution brakes it down. Essentially, spending, “90 minutes in a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and they also had reduced neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain related to mental illness”. That is an amazing finding. By going for a short hike, you will reduce the amount of negative and obsessive thoughts. This in part will help reduce anxiety many with mental illness struggle with. This article is a great read.
Hiking is also good for children with ADHD. It appears that by being outdoors, it reduces the symptoms on children with the disorder. Getting outdoors and taking a hike is a great way to reduce symptoms of mental illness, get fit and get the little ones to be more focused.
The Trek4PTSD is focused on raising awareness for PTSD and Mental Illness one step at a time. However, it is not by coincidence that we chose hiking as the method to raise awareness. As previously stated, hiking helps with mental illness and what better way to raise awareness than to practice what we preach. In addition, the journey of those who suffer from mental illness is very similar to the journey hikers have to go through. Both must do it by themselves with the support of others, both will be faced with difficult sections and harsh conditions, and both will want to quit. Hiking and mental illness are both a kin to each other in many ways and this is why the Trek4PTSD exists.
Take the first step to raise awareness. Become a Trekker for the Trek4PTSD and help raise awareness one step, one mile, one trail, one person(you) at a time.
More often than not when it comes to mental illness, suicide always seems like the most viable option to stop the pain. Suicide is a long term solution to a short term problem.
As I type this there is a thread on a veteran Facebook page where the author wrote, “Goodbye brothers and sisters I can’t do it anymore”. In less than 50 minutes there have been over 400 replies, many telephone numbers shared, dozens of veteran calls to local law enforcement and hundreds of positive comments telling the veteran to hang in there and not to do it.
This is not the first of these types of posts I have come across, and every time it is the same response. Veterans drop whatever it is they are doing and try everything in their power to prevent the loss of yet another brother or sister. This is because we never leave a brother or sister behind.
It is important that we understand that there is help out there. If you suffer from Mental Illness, keep on trekking. No matter how difficult the journey may be know that there are many people willing to help and support you. There are those who are on the same path as you and as long as you let them, they will help you get through it.
If you need help, ask we will respond.
!!!DO NOT GIVE UP!!!
Updates will be posted below.
20 April 2018 @ 1314 PST: Law Enforcement was able to get to the individual and he is safe and sound. Hundreds of veterans mobilized to save his life and fortunately he is still with us. He now knows he is not alone and that hundreds of people he does not know are with him and care about him.
PTSD Hotline: 800-273-8255
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE / 1-800-784-2433 or 1-800-273-TALK / 1-800-273-8255
#TrekOn #NeverGiveUp #PTSDAwreness