At a time when suicides among Service members continue to rise, America’s Medal of Honor recipients are launching a public service campaign urging today’s military to seek help for post-traumatic stress (PTS).
The campaign, called “Medal of Honor—Speak Out!,” features nearly 30 video testimonials by recipients who survived the most harrowing experiences in battle, including severe physical wounds as well as emotional trauma. Their message—available at www.MedalOfHonorSpeakOut.org—is simple: Don’t let the enemy defeat you at home—make use of the resources available today for combat stress.
The “Medal of Honor—Speak Out!” website provides downloadable videos from the Medal of Honor recipients, a two-minute montage and branch-specific montages urging Service members to seek assistance for combat stress issues that may have become problematic in their lives. The public, military leadership, and news organizations are invited to download and share these resources with Service members and their families.
This is the first time a group of the 91 living Medal of Honor recipients have participated in a public service campaign that aims to encourage today’s Service members to stay both physically mentally strong and reduce the tragic number of military suicides.
“Each of America’s Medal of Honor recipients has seen the ugliest side of war,” said retired Air Force Colonel Leo Thorsness, a former Vietnam prisoner of war and president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. “Yet, when we returned home from Vietnam, Korea and WWII, the military had few tools to help. Today’s Service members have access to numerous online resources and crisis hotlines, which we hope they’ll use.”
Despite all of these resources to fight PTS, 65 percent of Service members say they fear being “seen as weak” for seeking help and half fear it will hurt their military career.
“Central to providing behavioral health care in the military is ending the stigma that a person is weak if they seek counseling when needed,” said David J. McIntyre, Jr., Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation board member. “Medal of Honor recipients know first-hand what today’s Service members need—the reassurance that it is OK to seek help.”
The campaign launches Saturday, May 15—Armed Forces Day. Established in 1949, the day was the result of a consolidation of the military services in the Department of Defense. It was intended to replace the various Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Days. However, observance of these days, especially within each particular service, still continues to this day.