His Facebook cover photo speaks volumes. A young man, alone on a bench, over looks the ocean. Yesterday, this young veteran drove to the woods not far from the suburbs in Orange County CA, and killed himself.
Adam Razani’s last note left on Facebook was “Forgive me everybody …I’m sorry.” It was followed by a photo of a gun.
He seemed to have a lot of friends, an outpouring of support on Facebook. There’s no guessing whether or not he had the type of friend he could open up to about his war time experiences, or with whom he felt he could relay what was going through his head. Perhaps he never wanted to assume anyone would relate. That 1:1 could have been as simple as getting lunch, coffee –or better yet, a few other veterans who go out and do challenging activities like working out together, surfing, mountain climbing, or even engaging in the arts. But not to steer too close into the ideal: there are far too many instances of a young veteran who is engaged in an active life but the desolation they feel inside is so great, no one guessed they were feeling despondent and suicidal. It’s happened before, and for all of us who remembered how hard Clay Hunt poured himself into Team Rubicon, he still could not fill that deep abyss. Finally, like Adam Razani, he killed himself.
Still, the words, “Forgive me everybody ….I’m sorry” should be from an increasingly unaware public. A recent poll written about in the Washington Post (Americans Tune Out War in Afghanistan) found over 66% didn’t support the war. Unfortunately, for many, not supporting it is reason to shrug it all off. If you don’t care, it doesn’t exist. So the public isn’t aware of the lack of transition services to help young men and women like Adam find their place in this world. The truth is, it’s tough. For all our online connections, people are as disconnected on a 1:1 basis as they have ever been.
If we’re a nation that is going to send men and women into battle, we must support them when they come home and transition from battlefield to everyday life. And we just don’t assume the VA (government) will cover it all. It won’t and it can’t. It’s up to communities to answer the questions: “How are we going to welcome our veterans home after we’ve shaken their hand? What services are going to be in place in case they need help getting a job, seeking free counseling, finding other veterans to do things with that are both physically and mentally challenging? How are we going to show them that we care about their future, because we’re tied into it?” What we said when we worked on the film Restrepo was “Even if you don’t support the war, you must support the men and women who fight the wars.”
Simply put: Americans need to push aside any armchair judgment, and see our veterans as strong, capable human beings who are owed a good dose of caring, opportunity, and friendship. Coming home might not be easy, but it shouldn’t be the same hell as war. Condolences to the friends and family of Adam Razani, USAF, who served our country with honor.
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