I only know him as “Josh.” Actually, I don’t know him at all.
All I know is that, at 35 years of age, he died yesterday afternoon in a green tent in City Hall Park in the heart of downtown Burlington, Vt., of a gunshot wound officials say was self-inflicted.
He was one of us … one of the 99 percent. A man who identified himself as a military veteran who was participating in Occupy Vermont, part of a grassroots movement “of the People” that seeks justice in the face of unbridled greed and power grab that has left millions homeless, unemployed, uncared for and caught in a social and financial quagmire not of their own making.
If it is determined that Josh is indeed a veteran, he belonged to a group of men and women who served their country only to return home to face high unemployment, potential homelessness and, yes, staggering suicide rates in the face of limited access to medical care.
For the past two years, more U.S. soldiers have been lost to suicide than to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We Americans consider ourselves a patriotic lot with a keen desire to recognize and honor our fallen heroes and those who return home safely. We see that which is obvious before us – the wounded warriors with scars or who move about with some sort of assistance. We are much less cognizant of those who come home bearing the Silent Wounds of war: severe pain, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder. Until an irreversible tragedy such as that which befell Josh occurs.
To Josh: may you inspire us each to reach out to the young men and women who selflessly served us and see their pain on this Veterans’ Day and every day thereafter.