In 2015, I landed my first paid writing job at Funker530 – Combat Footage. It’s an open letter about veteran suicide, and is one that is close to my heart. This is a piece entitled You Are Not Alone that was originally published to that project, and was one of the first pieces of actual writing that I had published anywhere on the internet. Funnily enough, this piece is also one of the pieces that I had initially submitted to the project when I was applying for the job. The piece itself has since been lost to site and project updates, but being that it was one of my first pieces, it’s one that I’ve had backed up for years.
Later, this piece would be directly quoted by Vice News when they attacked the brand of Funker530. I believe, the exact title of the article from Vice News was The Worldstar of War Porn. We all had a great laugh at their expense when they published that. The backlash from the Funker530 community was amazing, and not once did anyone from Vice News reach out to any of the writers working on the project at the time. They even have me quoted as “Josh” (no last name.) By the way Vice, my last name is Brooks. It was never a secret.
You Are Note Alone – Funker530 Combat Footage
Sometimes you just have to spill the ink of your soul. You have to discard everything you know, want, and feel and just type something. Put pen to paper, fingers to keys and let words flow from raw emotion.
You’ve been there, you’ve done that, and you’ve got the t shirt. Except now you’re just here and you feel completely isolated. You’re afraid to reach out to anyone because you don’t want anyone to see the weakness. You don’t want help and you don’t need a shoulder to cry on. You’re just existing in this moment. All you know is right now it’s dark and all you think about is how it used to be.
You were a jolly green giant roaming the Earth with a gun. Leading men into the depths of hell, and bringing them home was your life. You protected the innocent the best that you could, unless it failed to fall within the guidelines set by politicians, most of whom never walked a mile in anyone’s boots. Let alone yours.
You were larger than life, but the men you led were even greater than you. They looked to you for guidance, and you dedicated every ounce of your being to their welfare praying that at the end of the day you had earned their respect. Without that respect you were meaningless. These men were and still are your brothers, yet you’re afraid to reach out to them because you’re still afraid of losing their respect.
The innocents you protected never knew you and they will never remember your face. To them you were a man from another place, the dog who kept the wolf at bay. You wore a big smile, showed your heart of gold, and gave candy to their kids. All of this but they knew, do not provoke this man. He carries a big stick, and behind that quiet demeanor is a man who should not be tested.
You did your time and now you’re left wondering. How did I get here? How was I capable of so much, yet now I am unable to do anything? Why am I at this dead end? One paycheck bleeds to the next. Your day starts at six, ends at six – wash, rinse, repeat. Nothing seems fulfilling, life’s forward progress has halted. Staring into the mirror you look down those woeful thousand yards into your own soul and ask: “What has happened to me? What is wrong with me? Why do I feel like my life is the end of Rambo: First Blood? Why am I lying on the floor remembering every terrible second of my life?”
I wrote this to help you brother. The trigger on that Sig might seem like the only key to redemption, but I can’t let you beat yourself. I am asking for your help because I can’t stand to lose another veteran who is too afraid to reach out. I’m reaching out to you now because I know you don’t feel like you can reach out to me. I’m encouraging you to not become a statistic, because you are better than that. I know its dark right now, but you can find the light if you just keep pushing. One foot in front of the other, do not defeat yourself.
My Thoughts on Veteran Suicide Currently.
Veteran Suicide is almost an over-talked topic nowadays. It started with that fad of Veterans doing 22-pushup videos on social media. Admittedly, a majority of those posts felt like ego stroking to me. Maybe there was a deeper message, but to me I wasn’t really seeing it. But, having been around the veteran world a bit, and having worked with some truly influential people in the space, I can say that without a shadow-of-a-doubt, there are great people making tons of resources available to veterans who are in need. The IAVA QRF is probably one of my all-time favorites, but if you do a bit of digging you can probably find something local too.
This is a topic that I’m still extremely passionate about to this day. When I first published this piece, I went to every Facebook Group I’m in that has members of my unit and I shared this. I wrote this piece shortly after one of my close friends had killed himself. It stands to this day as an open letter to all of my brothers, regardless of what unit we served in together. Hell, even if we didn’t serve together in any capacity, it’s an open letter to you. You are my family. You are a part of my tribe. Do not be afraid to reach out to me if you are in a bad place, and we can talk it through together.
In the end, the best way that we can stop veteran suicide is by simply being there for one another when it matters the most.