I had the pleasure of attending my first Mission22 seminar. This was a massive effort that was hosted by new home, Tier 1 Training Facility under Professor Alan Shebaro. The guest instructors were as follows: Octavio Couto, Chris Haueter, Sina Hadad, Melissa Bentley, Guy Mezger, Gina Franssen, Kurt Osiander, & Renato Tavares. All of these instructors didn't come to this event for a paycheck. It was clear after each had their moment to present content they were 100% in support of the cause. There were so many well known and respected black belts in attendance I can't even begin to name all of them.
So what's the point of Mission22 and this seminar exactly? Yes, Jiu-Jitsu but more importantly bringing awareness about the struggles our active and discharged veterans encounter. PTSD is something everyone by now is aware of but few have experienced personally...be it yourself, a husband, wife, child, friend, etc. As much as I felt I was aware and understood this issue I developed a much more meaningful perspective over the weekend. There was a very large number of attendees (over 200) and a large percentage have served our country. One of the most amazing things about the seminar was seeing so many practitioners traveling from all of our country to attend despite affiliation. Maybe you're asking why Jiu-Jitsu for our veterans? The camaraderie veterans develop in the field is very difficult to replace/replicate once they integrate back into civilian life. Anyone that has trained Jiu-Jitsu for a while is aware of the camaraderie that is developed among teammates on the mats. It works well for many veterans and I know because I've seen it myself.
Each instructor spent some time talking about why they were there; why they support this cause and share their perspectives on why they feel it is important to be a part of this mission. Both days ran about eight hours in length. The atmosphere was nothing short of amazing. I had my reservations about holding up over two straight days for eight hours but was pleasantly surprised. Everyone was there to learn but there was a very relaxed feel to the event, the instruction, and the time provided to train. I felt like everyone there was interested in the cause first, then the training, and time to interact with instructors were additional benefits.
I'm not here to write a dissertation about PTSD. I am however dedicating this non-Jiu Jitsu entry to the importance of being a good human being. The reality is PTSD can be caused by many things. It affects people in so many different ways it's more than I can imagine trying to understand. We need to realize that the problems our veterans go through after coming back from their time serving our country and the problems they experience trying to re-assume civilian life. It's important to consider the far reaching effects that one person has on all of the people they touch. Think about how easily an entire family can be destroyed by the loss of a father, mother, or child. How are their lives changed by the loss of a loved one?
Just imagine this scenario. A father comes back from active combat and is struggling from the guilt, loss of friends, and stressful events they have endured. How does that effect his family? He may struggle for a period of time and the family suffers with him. One day he takes his own life. How does that affect his wife, children, parents, and friends? Suicide has such far reaching tentacles that we really don't consider. Losing one person damages so many people that are connected to them.
How can we help support our veterans? Of course we can donate money, purchase and attend events that benefit veterans. We can donate our time in many ways to participate in causes to support our veterans. The list is really long on what we can do to help. However, I feel like one of the easiest ways to help is the most often ignored method. Simply taking a moment to be selfless. I feel very strongly we are at a time in society where most people are so self-absorbed in their own lives through social media, personal goals...just fill in the blank. I don't need to convince anyone that this is where we are at right now. I'm a father and have that perspective seeing my own kids who are by nature selfish at their age but also filled with a million distractions. I am guilty of this more times than I'm proud to admit.
How many times in the last year alone have we watched the news to hear about someone that killed others only to take their own life? I ask myself "didn't anyone notice something was wrong with this person?" I have to believe that anytime someone does something like that or simply takes their own life SOMEBODY had to be aware there was a problem before such an incident transpires. There are usually clues by simply observing someones behavior. The problem is all too often people just choose to ignore it for various reasons. Maybe because they don't want to be involved? Maybe they are afraid of the stigma they might endure for "interfering" with someone's life? Who knows what the motivation or lack thereof to say something or talk to someone about it when there is clearly something wrong.
In closing, I feel mental illness is still a taboo topic in our society. I feel like we have moved past the "dark ages" of mental health...identifying it, treating it, etc. However, I feel we have a long way to go to develop compassion and basic understanding for those that suffer from mental illness. If you haven't experienced it yourself or maybe someone close to you that has experienced these kinds of struggles I'm not convinced most people have the ability to be compassionate and care as much as they should.
22 veterans dying everyday is just a number. Whether that number is higher or lower is irrelevant. Think about the exponential number of lives that are impacted by the loss of whatever number you feel comfortable with. Think about how you are going to make your mark.
We Defy Foundation
Tier 1 Facebook page (TONS of pics from the Mission22 seminar)
Tier 1 Training Facility (Where I train & teach)
Pitbulls for 22