Sometimes when we are up against a struggle it is difficult to be thankful. Struggles come in various forms, be it physical, emotional, relational, mental, financial. Struggle in one area can lead to struggles in other areas of life. I know that when I my third son was physically hurt in a bad accident at 13, it led to financial struggles that drained me not only financially, but emotionally and mentally. As a result my personal resilience took a huge hit that also impacted my relationships with others.
Coming back to realization of the power of a thankful heart was key to restoring my life and my hope. In spite of all the things that seemed to be going wrong; I still had much to be thankful for. I still had a family that loved me. I still had untapped opportunities for making a living. I still had a future, even though at that time it seemed to be hidden from my own eyes.
Often times it is very difficult to find the good in the situations we find ourselves in, but if somehow we can find just one thing to be thankful for it has a way of lightening our load and restoring our hope.
The truth is I really didn't know what I was made of until I found myself facing the biggest obstacles in life that I had ever known. Would I have chosen the path? NO! Would I now change it if I could go back? No, because it was during the darkest days of my life that I discovered the power of a thankful heart.
The past five days I had the honor of participating in Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training with Law Enforcement personnel at the Academy in Cobb County, Georgia. My appreciation for those in law enforcement has always been high, but now I have an even greater understanding of what they go through on a daily basis. More than 48,000 veterans live in Cobb County and many of them live with mental health issues. Knowing that law enforcement is taking great measure to learn all they can about mental illness is an encouragement.
1 in 4 people live with some form of mental illness. In the past the prisons were the logical step for such individuals when they experienced altercations with the law. But today law enforcement seeks to divert individuals with mental illness to community behavioral health centers when possible. The system is not perfect, but the individuals I met this week are doing all they can to do what is best given the resources they have.
CIT is an initiative of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and law enforcement personnel across the country are encouraged to enroll in the CIT program. I concur. CIT is a great program and I am thankful for the week of training. My understanding of the subject has increased and will benefit me in the work we do at Armed Forces Mission.
I was in Springfield, MO just last week. A dear friend notified me that a Marine there died by suicide this afternoon. I did not know this Marine, but had I known him and I had I known that he was struggling I would have done something. In the last two months I have been notified of six suicides.
After 150 successful interventions this year I know that we have what it takes to help those on the battlefield of despair. I am going back to the Ozarks in the spring to train all I can in the skills that are saving lives. We are dealing every day with circumstances that most people would rather avoid. But you can do something. You can give to help us do even more.
In this season of giving will you look in your heart and consider what you can do to help us help others. While we can't send you a blanket or even a coffee mug with our name on it, we can save a life with your help. Take a moment now and give something. Every penny helps and is used wisely to serve those who are hurting. Visit www.StandwithThem.com to make a difference.
Thank you and God bless you!
Suicide intervention training is much like learning CPR. For example every community should be filled with people trained in CPR and have a handful of MDs to help with follow up care as needed. If I had a heart attack at Walmart I would not necessarily want a surgeon cutting on me with a hunting knife in the sporting good department, but I would want someone who knows CPR.
This is the goal of the I WILL INTERVENE CHALLENGE to train as many people as possible is suicide first aid. We want them spread out in communities everywhere - on the ball fields, the school rooms, the churches and any other place where hurting people, which in reality is everywhere.
Recently one of our workshop participants did an intervention within a few hours after the class as he was checking out of the hotel. He recognized the signs of risk in a hotel employee and was able to provide the necessary first aid and connect the person with resources for further care. This is so powerful. The more we train the more life saving opportunities will happen.