#CombattheSilenceJH: Local student does push ups for wounded warriors

(Jackson, Wyo.) - Jackson Hole Middle School 7th grader Matt McGrath is advocating for wounded warriors and hopes to help make a difference by creating a pledge to do 22 push-ups for 22 days because 22 veterans commit suicide every day. Learn more in his essay below. Learn about the local students who #CombattheSilenceJH here. *Serving our Warriors by Matt McGrath* An Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) was trying to escape a battle. It was racing away, desperate for medical help. The AAV bounded along the worn, dirt path towards a few soldiers, hoping for the assistance it desperately needed. The unlucky soldiers only realised how serious it was when a marine fell out of the vehicle—on fire. A soldier and a doctor ran out to help them. The soldier saw a leg on the ground, not connected to anyone. “‘Lay this off to the side. We are going to find out who this belongs to.’” He thought that if the poor soul who lost their leg was alive, that they could reattach the leg. (SFgate) While I was sitting in the classroom, I couldn’t stop thinking of what these soldiers are going through, from pride to pain, while we sit back in our chairs writing about what we think is important. Thinking about this is when I realized how much we need to take care of our veterans. Not taking care of our veterans is a significant problem in the world today, but we can solve this issue for tomorrow by giving our veterans the help they need, when they need it. *What is Going on?* Not helping our veterans is a significant problem because people are dying, not only on a battlefield, but waiting to be examined by a doctor. For example, “‘It’s ridiculous that I’ve been waiting seven months just to be examined by a doctor — absolutely ridiculous,’ he said”(Chandrasekaren 1). Imagine that, having a fever and being able to go to the doctor for 7 months! But that’s not all: “CNN found evidence that many of these individuals were placed on a secret waiting list that’s not entered electronically and not shared with the U.S. government. That way, when the VA hospital provides the government with its official list, it appears as though veterans are promptly receiving care — when in reality, some people are waiting for more than a year” (Culp-Ressler 1). So not only are you waiting 7 months, but the no one is going to solve the problem! And of course, “The Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system in Arizona is a particularly egregious offender. There, at least 40 veterans died while waiting in line for an appointment with a doctor”(Culp-Ressler 1). So why aren’t we serving them as they served us? That is almost twice the people in your class! If this keeps up, how many more people who served us will die? This is a significant problem because our veterans are dying waiting for assistance or from therapy that wasn’t acceptable. For example, “‘Every day, approximately 22 American veterans commit suicide, totaling over 8,000 veteran suicides each year’”(Ye Hee Lee 1). That is enough suicides to wipe out the human population of Wyoming within 75 years, or Jackson Hole within 2 years. But suicides might not be the only reason for them dying. “America identified 49,933 homeless veterans during point-in-time counts, which represents 8.6 percent of the total homeless population” ( That is 5 times the population of Jackson. But people become homeless because they can’t make money because they don’t have a job. Nicholas Johnson said, “‘I can’t get a good job now because . . . I have to be upfront and say I have this disability, I have a tore-up back’”(Chandrasekaren 1). His disability prevents him from getting a satisfying job, which prevents him from making a fair amount of money. This may of been how it all started for the homeless veterans. But while we sit here in a classroom, there are people out there struggling to get a substantial job, struggling to get a home, struggling to hold onto life — and we have done nothing. *Is there a solution?* But maybe there is a way is solve this. Maybe there is a way to end the deaths of our veterans. Maybe there is a way, to give our veterans a home, give them a doctor, and give them a reason to live. Some people might argue that solving this problem is to prevent wars, but that is too broad. No, we must assist our veterans by having them wait for a month or less to get the doctor they need, rather than a year. “Breen was so proud of his military service that he would go ‘nowhere but the VA’ for his treatment. But making an appointment took months. When Breen’s wife finally received a call from the VA about the urologist, Breen had already passed away from Stage 4 bladder cancer.” (CNN) Thomas Breen had cancer, and he needed a doctor. But the VA hospital wouldn’t get him an appointment to treat it, so he died. If we don’t help out, then who knows how many more people will die? Maybe if we can spread the awareness, then the VA will have to remove the secret waiting list that CNN found out about, if they haven’t already. Maybe, we can serve our veterans the way they served us. *Who is helping?* We can solve the issue of not assisting our veterans by giving them the aid they need, when they need it. Because I think this topic is a lot more serious than people let on, I am going to present to my whole advisory class, put a presentation on the web, and create a pledge to do 22 push-ups for 22 days because 22 veterans commit suicide every day. I don’t know if anyone will sign the pledge I will create, or if people will completely forget everything I said by tomorrow, but I will still do it in hopes that it helps. I saw the Wounded Warrior Project and what they were doing to serve them. “Today wounded warrior project serves 100,000 warriors and family members through 20 programs and services. Over 45,000 warriors and family members served through health and wellness programs. Over $160 Million has been secured for warriors and their families.” They have served our warriors, so now it is our turn. They put their money where it matters, and we should too. Are we going to let these heroes die? No, we can aid them, and we should. Donating to them may be the answer to this problem, so why wait? *Citations* Chandrasekaren, Rajiv. "A legacy of Pride and Pain." Washington Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 June 2016. < >. Ye Hee Lee, Michelle. "The missing context behind the widely cited statistic that there are 22 veteran suicides a day." Washington Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 June 2016. < >. Culp-Ressler, Tara. "Veterans Are Dying While They’re Waiting Months To Get Health Care From The Government." Think Progress. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 June 2016. < >. Bronstein, Scott, and Drew Griffin. "A fatal wait: Veterans languish and die on a VA hospital's secret list." CNN. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 June 2016. <>. *Feature Photo: Matt McGrath. Pitchengine Communities* #buckrail #news #combatthesilencejh