PTSD/Substance Abuse Committee Update July/August 2020

Thomas C. Hall, Ph. D., PTSD/Substance Abuse Committee Chair

BY THOMAS C. HALL, PH.D., CHAIR

Our freedom stands on the sacrifices of many. And what is sacrifice? It’s the “act of giving up something that you want to keep, especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone.”

During this pandemic we have seen countless medical personnel risk their own health to aid those who are afflicted. In Washington, D.C., and across this country memorials honor our fellow citizens who served, who made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us.

Health care workers today are risking their lives to help their fellow veterans and all citizens fight COVID-19. And just as “Freedom is not free,” which defines the mission of the military, the current pandemic is trying to steal the lives of our fellow Americans. Without life there is no liberty and there can be no pursuit of happiness.

We have all been asked to join in the fight against this deadly viral enemy that already has killed more than 100,000 Americans, including thousands of veterans. How do we serve if we are not involved somehow in patient care?

It is not so difficult, really, to wear a mask and to follow federal guidelines to keep a safe distance from others when we’re out and about. We can still be warriors who protect our fellow Americans if we’re willing to sacrifice a bit of comfort and focus our awareness on where we are in relation to others.

Why wait until the coronavirus hits someone close—a friend, a relative, a neighbor, or a co-worker—before we take this threat seriously, and do the right thing?

So many Americans have stepped up to this challenge. They deserve our thanks and gratitude. They have demonstrated their willingness to sacrifice convenience by the simple act of wearing masks to protect themselves and those among whom they walk.

There are those who say that no one can make them wear a mask when out among others, and they will do what they want under the banner of personal freedom because this is their right. But what about the responsibilities of citizenship? And what of the rights of the rest of us?

I was a sentry dog handler in Vietnam. Imagine for a moment the impact if I decided not to get my dog, not check out my rifle from the armory, not guard my post because no one was going to tell me what to do. I would have been lucky to get only an official reprimand.

Freedom not to fight this pandemic will be borne on the backs of Americans whose lives could be spared by your service. Usually very few of us have the opportunity to step up and protect our freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This pandemic has given each of us a chance to fight for the lives of our fellow citizens. The very special weapon on this battlefield is the face mask. So, wear a mask and follow the medical community’s recommendations to help break the back of this very lethal enemy.


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