This Sunday was only the eighth time, in the 54 years that it has been celebrated, that Veterans Day fell on a Sunday. It was also the first Sunday after a long and vitriolic campaign, so the observance probably passed unnoticed in many pulpits and congregations. But Veterans Day often passes unnoticed in non-election years, too—just as veterans' needs and experiences are often overlooked in churches throughout the year.
Veterans are everywhere; we stand behind you in the grocery store line, sit next to you in class, and worship beside you in church every week. What we have in common with one another is not always the easiest bond to understand. Some say the martial fraternity is made up of courage, tenacity, and strength. To be sure, what I saw in my own combat deployment in 2004 reflected heights of human charity I've failed to witness before or since; soldiers standing in the line of fire for one another, risking their lives for civilians and comrades alike.
But there is another trait we veterans hold tragically in common. In 2009, CBS conducted a study that found over 17 veterans killed themselves every day (they also explain the numbers), a rate higher than any other recorded in our nation's history. More recently, it was found that current members of the United States military were taking their own lives at a rate of one every day, itself another tragic statistical record of epic proportions. Suicide is currently the leading cause of death among our troops, those men and women we ask God to bless.
It is a partial truth to say that the martial fraternity is held together by common virtues. As evidenced by those startling statistics, the other half of that truth is that we hold in common feelings of mental ...1