It’s Time to Acknowledge the Real Athletes and Heroes Among Us

I want to start this by saying that I have a lot of family members that are active in the United States military. I am very proud of them and the rest of the men and women that put on that uniform. With that being said the wrong men, wearing the wrong helmets, are making far too much money.

We live in a fast-paced world of technology and with our hectic schedules, we don’t take the time to recognize the bigger picture in life. We look up and idolize famous athletes and stars all the time. Major league ballplayers, football players, basketball players, etc. but what about the athletes who have sacrificed it all by going overseas and serving our country.

Some professional athletes have stepped away from the spotlight to protect our country. Such athletes as Ted Williams, Roger Staubach, Joe DiMaggio, Arnold Palmer, Yogi Berra, Joe Louis, Bobby Jones, and let’s not forget Pat Tillman. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Pat Tillman decided to leave his professional football career with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the military.

We as sports fans need to take a step back to recognize the men and women who dedicate their lives to protecting this country. We need to recognize every man and woman who puts on that uniform. These men and women are separated from their homes, their family and their everyday lives to sacrifice everything for our freedom.

A few years back I was introduced to a man that has fought for our country. A prideful American citizen who is deep in the struggle of everyday life. A disabled veteran, proud husband and father who has the hopes and dreams for providing for his family. However, he couldn’t do that due to the limitations he sustained while being active in our military. This man shared his stories and provided me with a lot of life lessons. We quickly became close, he was like a big brother figure but I also saw and realized the limitations of what our Government provides for these men and women.

Sharing the story of his struggles woke up my wife and I. Especially seeing the moments he would need help and none was given to him. No one could help, he and his family falling on hard times would sleep wherever they had the chance. Shelters were too costly due to the lack of funding for disabled veterans. About 11% of the adult homeless population are veterans. Roughly 45% of all homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic, despite only accounting for 10.4% and 3.4% of the U.S. veteran population, respectively. Homeless veterans are younger on average than the total veteran population.

He continued to persevere and fight. As of September 20th, 2019, my big brother taught me to fight my demons and help me overcome my very own depression. The Army suffers 52% of the suicides from all branches. In 2013, the VA released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, which showed that roughly 22 veterans were dying by suicide per day, or once every 65 minutes. Some sources suggest that this rate may be undercounting suicides.

My friend, my big brother has passed. He took his last breath due to medical conditions. I only hope this article spreads the awareness of our proud men and women who protect our country in hopes of more awareness for them.

We need to help our veterans get the help they need and deserve. This story of Mr. Terry is just one of the millions. Let’s keep our vets in our thoughts and at the very least be sure to thank them for their service.

After all, they are the real super heros in our world. So as we enjoy the great moments in life, let’s take a moment to reflect on the men and women who have sacrificed it all.

This article is dedicated to Private Terry S. Wilkins U.S Army 29th infantry division and all the other men and women who are going through the same struggle.

Suicide prevention hotline 1-800-273-8255.