Many people I know skip the Fourth of July entirely. Maybe they’ll have a nice meal, maybe they’ll see the fireworks, but there is little to no actual celebrating of the history that goes with it. So we left the British. So what?
Yes, the Fourth of July is about independence. But that, by default, makes it about those who enabled us to gain it. It is, therefore, about people—about individual lives that mattered a great, great deal. And if we make it a celebration of the lives that enabled us to achieve and maintain independence, perhaps we should focus a little bit more on the lives we are still losing to that cause.
I know, Veterans’ day exists. But there are 364 other days in a year, and on each one of those an average of 22 veterans takes their lives (VA Suicide Data Report). Whether you are for or against the conflicts these men and women have been in, that is too many lost. Whether you agree with what they do or not, members of the Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy, and every branch in-between deserve the help and resources to not become a part of those sobering statistics. They and their families—and the families who have lost loved ones—deserve more than just one day of passing remembrance.
So how are you supposed to do that? How are you supposed to make this holiday—and other days—about more than just the commercial, All-American-feel-good elements? Realistically, it does no good to dwell in remembrance without doing anything about it. And so therefore, let me introduce you to some places that can help. These are organizations that can take what you are willing to give and make sure that it continues giving. Through them, you can honor lives—people who matter.
- 1. Camp Eyas (www.campeyas.org)
- The focus of Camp Eyas is on helping military families heal after losing a loved one. They host wilderness excursions in both the Texas Hill Country and the Adirondack Mountains of New York, in order to bring families closer together and provide them with outlets for “physical activity, creative expression, and true participation in a community.” In their own words, the ultimate goal of the camp is to help families to “emerge stronger and on a path to a healthy, productive life.”
- Camp Eyas is an entirely volunteer-run program, and welcomes donations. You can donate online at the website above, or by mail:
- Camp Eyas, 9100 McGregor Lane Dripping Springs, TX 78620
- 2. #22kill (www.22kill.com) This organization works to raise awareness about veteran suicide and helps to contribute to programs that provide veterans with the tools they need to carry on. The goal is to keep them uplifted, supported, and educated in order to avoid the “downward spiral,” which they term “loss of identity and self-worth, depression, and drug and alcohol abuse.”
3. Operation Hat Trick (www.operationhattrick.org) Through this organization you can purchase hats and other apparel in order to fund recovery for wounded warriors. They are paired with sports teams and other companies as well, so if you were looking for a bit of sports swag anyway, why not buy it from a place that will put your money to good use.
- 4. Wounded Warrior Project (www.woundedwarriorproject.org) You may be familiar with this one already, but it bears mentioning again. As their mission statement indicates, they provide “free programs and services focused on the physical, mental, and long-term financial well-being of this generation of injured veterans, their families and caregivers.