Have you seen this challenge going around Facebook? People are supposed to record themselves doing 22 push ups a day for 22 days, and each day nominate friends they think will participate. The goal is stated as raising “awareness” surrounding the alarming statistic that 22 veterans commit suicide every day.
I’ve got to tell you, it hits me the wrong way.
Kind of like a punch in the chest. The campaign is supposed to bring awareness to the fact that 22 veterans commit suicide every day. “Awareness” sounds like a good thing, but only when it means something.
The copied and pasted Facebook post entails clear instructions about how to complete the challenge, but it doesn’t offer more information on PTSD or other relevant disorders, links to resources, ways for those suffering to get help, or any kind of promoting or fundraising for an organization that helps veterans.
It doesn’t even have a call to action, beyond asking people to record themselves doing push ups (because service members do push ups?) and then to tag their friends. I’ve even seen some people adapting the challenge into a fundraiser (still in the name of awareness for the #22aday stat) – and then donating those funds to non-veteran related organizations.
Yes, 22 veterans a day take their lives because they’ve been through and seen things we can’t even imagine. They’re living with heavy, heavy burdens, often completely alone. Sometimes homeless. Sometimes in jail. Sometimes without health insurance. Sometimes without access to competent medical professionals. Sometimes with serious mental and/or physical problems that go unrecognized or untreated. It’s mortifying. It’s complete bullshit.
But there is help. The Head Strong Project, https://getheadstrong.org/ is my new favorite organization. They’re just starting out but have some really big ideas and have already helped a lot of people.
This number is for the Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 – select option 5
And this is the National Suicide Hotline:1-800-273-8255
Operation Homefront, https://www.operationhomefront.net/, also comes highly recommended by vets and their families.
Because people do care. And I’m sure many of the people participating in the challenge care. I’m definitely not one to judge the participants – if it makes you feel good, go for it. Just remember that more than push ups and viral video campaigns for “awareness” to a shocking fact, veterans dealing with these feelings need to know that they are not alone, and things can get better.
**EDIT** My dear friend, Tina, sent me the following information:
“..This is NOT where it started. The result of social medias pollution is the lax “look what I’m doing because I’m strong and I want to show you that and pretend I give a crap”.
This movement was actually started by two veterans that had to say goodbye to too many brothers and in their original posts there where informative links, numbers and information. They also began each video by expressing “you are not alone,” “you matter” and “call your battle buddies.” The movement wasn’t about simply “awareness” as much as awareness and guidance.
Much like the ASL ice bucket challenge however, you have people wanting to post a charitable post without doing any charity at all. Again, I agree with the sentiments, it’s become like anything else out there “I care look at me, look at my biceps caring…” But just be aware, this isn’t what the intent was in the start.”
I loved hearing this. I think THAT kind of video – one that begins with sentiments of support, love, and guidance as well as the ever vague “awareness”. So I encourage those of you participating to begin starting your videos with such messages, as well as adding links and phone numbers that can help a veteran in crisis.
Tina and her husband Nate, are huge supporters of The Military Order of the Purple Heart, another great resource for veterans and their families.
Finally, Tina also shared this article discussing why the popular statistic of 22/day is actually misleading.
You are all fabulous and beautiful. Thank you for taking time to read
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