A Soldier doesn’t simply head home after work from enemy territory. He or she brings home every smell, every memory, every pain; not just his, but those of his battle buddies. In many regards, warriors never fully come home. They leave a part of themselves on the battlefield. For some it is a journey into darkness. Such was the case for Kyle Lovett.
In 2015 I lost five soldiers to suicide, but they were states apart, I never knew them. Neither did I know Kyle, but I was only 100 yards away when he died, and was immediately called upon to assist law enforcement and the family. His passing reminded me once more of why I continue in my work with those who on the edge of the abyss; wondering if life is worth living.
In my work with soldiers, I have come to believe that suffering has a way of heightening one’s mental acuity to levels others who have never experienced such suffering cannot fully comprehend. In suffering one becomes more aware not only that things are not right within oneself, but perhaps even more, those things that are not right in the world. Like many veterans, Kyle was overwhelmed by a pain he could not shake. Some of my mental health colleagues will chide me for use of the word “suffering”, as if somehow not using the word will reduce the pain, but I am reminded of an ancient writing that says, “We learn much by our suffering.” Suffering does not make change hopeless, denying it does.
In all the sorrow, I am thankful for thousands of compassionate voices in our community that have expressed their condolences to the Lovett family; and have encouraged me to continue the efforts of serving veterans and all at risk. I am no one’s hero, but I often times find myself walking with heroes that are carrying heavy loads. We lighten their load by our compassion, even when we cannot fully comprehend all they are going through, but we never fully remove it. The pain is ever present, even when it is covered up with meds or alcohol.
Since Kyle’s passing I have been inundated with calls and emails from people wanting to know what they can do. At AFM we are working on a program called LOSS Teams. LOSS is an acronym that stands for Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors. It is the first such team in the state of Georgia and part of a larger nationwide LOSS Teams movement. We will hold a community volunteer meeting Monday the 25th at 4:00 at the PTC Library for individuals interested in helping with the inaugural LOSS Walk to raise awareness this spring and the LOSS Teams Conference in August. Interested community members are invited to attend.