“No one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends. (John 15:13 AMP)”
In two of my earliest blogs, “My Suicide Part 1” (https://brokenpeople.blog/2016/12/22/my-suicide-part-1/) and “My Suicide Part 2” (https://brokenpeople.blog/2016/12/23/my-suicide-part-2/), I shared the story about my suicide attempt while in Army basic training at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina.
The crux of the story is that I was diagnosed with Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD), which I wasn’t aware of until it was almost too late. I took nearly 60 pills—painkillers and Tylenol, mostly—and went to bed, not expecting to wake up. When I did wake up, I told Drill Sargent Douglas what I’d done the night before.
He looked at me for a long time, muttered, “Just kill yourself, I don’t care,” and called someone to drive me to the hospital and have my stomach pumped. In the two previously mentioned blogs, I discuss in detail about what happened next, but basically, the Lord miraculously healed me, and they found no traces of the pills I’d taken the night before.
Next, they sent me to the loony bin—hospital wing 7-West, that is—for psychiatric evaluation. That’s when I found out about my DPD, and three weeks later I was home.
When I got home, I experienced a mixture of elation and disgust at myself for not making it through basic. I wanted so badly to follow in the footsteps of my Grandpa Stroud, who served in World War II, and my uncles, Jim Wright and Bill Stroud, who had both served in Viet Nam. Even my dad had served in the Army Reserves.
I desperately wanted to wear the uniform, man. I wanted to be able to tell people, “Yeah, I served (x-number of) years in the military.”
It’s a family tradition, and I wanted to follow through, but had a mental breakdown, and just couldn’t, despite my best efforts.
But I greatly admire every man and woman who has donned the uniform. I have the utmost respect for those who dedicated their lives—and many who gave them—to serve and protect our country.
Last week I received a call from Julie, a lady at church, asking me if I had a picture of myself from basic training. Her husband, Brad, is a veteran, and a fine and honorable man, and has included me in the Veteran’s Day observances at church the last few years, despite my objections to the contrary.
“You took the oath,” Brad would tell me. “You donned the uniform, which makes you a veteran, no matter how long you served.”
While this touches me so profoundly, I just couldn’t do it this year. For Brad to lump me in the same category with him and his brothers and sisters who also served is, I feel, an insult to them.
While it sounds like I’m degrading myself, this is not the case. I regret nothing, as I gave it my best effort. My dad sent me a postcard while I was in 7-West which read:
“I love you, son. You gave it your all, and now it’s time to come home.”
We have to realize there will be times when we put our heart and soul into something, but still don’t see our dreams come to fruition. That’s when we have to forgive ourselves, say “to God be the glory” and move on.
But I pray God richly blesses Brad and his amazing family for thinking so highly of me. He has a wonderfully giving heart, as I’m sure those who served with him can testify.
Veterans are an exceptional breed, and I have the utmost admiration for every single one of them.
From the bottom of my heart I’d like to say “Thank You!” to every veteran. Maybe I can’t stand beside you as a brother-in-arms, but I can stand beside you as a brother in Christ. I can defend you to the irreverent and disrespectful ones (a nasty, growing breed in our beloved country), and I can express my deepest appreciation for your service.
And so I shall.