Who is this? It’s my buddy Cameron. We were Marines together. He’s the reason we are here. Because when he killed himself, I had a Popeye moment. “I had all I can stand, and I can’t stand anymore.”
So, we started Combat Counselors. The irony is if I had started this years ago when I first thought it out, Cam would have been the first person to support me. In fact, he would have put his lifeblood into it. It’s who he was. He worked for me when we were Marines. He told me on multiple occasions that he looked up to me and wanted to be like me. What we told each other the most? That we loved each other.
I never knew he was hurting. I should have known. I’ve forgiven myself for not knowing, but I won’t let that happen again. Cam took his own life. He’ll never be just another number to me, but he’s one of more than 100 Marines who I knew personally or worked with whom have killed themselves.
The reasons don’t matter. They can’t keep seeing the things we saw in Sangin, Afghanistan. They feel like they don’t belong in this world. They feel they failed their nation, their fellow Marines, their family or their friends. They can’t take the pain another minute longer. The truth is, I know that pain. I’ve had the nightmares about those days in Sangin. I can’t shake the faces of those whose memorials I photographed. Some days the boiling hot anger inside me hurts worse than anything I can imagine. I’ve been to every place except actually pulling the trigger with the gun to my head. More of us have done that than you can imagine— made it to that final moment and something made us stop. Unfortunately, far too many have not stopped and followed through with their plane. Too many have made a decision they can’t take back.
So, here’s where we need your help. We’ve decided we are going to stop veterans in their darkest hours. We want to find them. We want them to know we care. We want them to know that tons of people love them and want them to live. If we must, we will find them before they can end it all.
What do we need? An army. Quite literally— we need volunteers all over the US willing to step up and help veterans who are struggling. We need money— not because anyone is collecting a salary— every penny goes to developing our program to help vets. None of this team is drawing a salary, most of us are paying out-of-pocket for our expenses, and all of us are donating our time and talents. We need an app to help us connect with veterans. We want to talk, video chat, and if needed, track down veterans in crises. If any of that sounds like something you can do— volunteer, donate or code an app— we need you. No, they need you. Cam needed us in early March, but we were just an idea in my head. Don’t let another veteran die wishing someone was around to help.