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Smoke doesn't always mean fire Part I

A Chief's Perspective

Submitted by Martina Borg 

A recent article titled 'VA reveals its veteran suicide statistics included active-duty troops' in the Stars and Stripes dated June 20, 2018 highlights suicide rates in the military. In light of the stressful environment we all experience because we are in the profession we are in, I wanted to share a little something about myself.

I struggle.

I sit here and wonder if I should even divulge this information. But I know that there are others out there who go through the exact same thing as me and I want you to know that you are not alone. No one wants to be seen as weak or be perceived as not being able to handle... life. And do you know what the crazy thing is? The logical portion of my brain says I am being stupid. Dumb, stupid and asinine because my life, as a whole, is pretty darn good. I've realized my dream of becoming a Chief. My husband is my rock solid support in all my endeavors. My son is doing so well, in fact, he was recently promoted to staff sergeant. "Life," my logical brain says, "is downright awesome."

And yet... I struggle. That little bit of darkness rears its ugly head. I have no time for my hobbies. I basically have just enough time to go out and feed my horses, pat and kiss them on that space between their eyes and promise them more attention in the future. The house, always dirty in my OCD opinion, hears my assurance of getting to it sometime next week. The dogs, who are a huge part of our family and important to us, get a vow from me for more consideration soon. My husband, who always seems to get the short end of the stick, gets the least of my regard, even though he deserves the sun, moon, and stars.

Work consumes me. I arrive early although I don't stay late due to chores that await me at home, still, it's a 12-hour day. I grapple with what I am doing and wonder if I am doing enough. There is so much that needs to be done and I feel like I flounder all the way... in every endeavor. In my mind, I am never enough. If only I were smarter, stronger, more astute, more determined...

At this point I am sure you are telling yourself "Martina has lost it, gone off the deep end." The answer to that is no, because even though I can get depressed and feel like there is no point to life, my logical self and that light part of me pip up and tell me: 

"Even though you have no time for the horses that are your passion, you will as the days get longer and for now just take pleasure in the little things amidst the hurried chores, like watching the horses munch on their evening hay in the quiet of the evening. While the house is not as clean as you think it should be, it is clean enough and it is a happy place with the pups clowning around and though you don't spend as much time with the pups as you would like, you still have just enough time for one to fall asleep in your lap while you sit, hold hands with your husband and feel warmth and contentment wash over you. Although work is overwhelming, you still feel good when a task is accomplished and you take pleasure in the teamwork you have with your peers."

I have learned to listen to those positive thoughts. I think by taking those moments, short and sometimes fleeting they may be; wherein I can feel happy, content, accomplished, and secure and really letting those moments wash over me and savoring them, filing them away. That is my solution.

I want you to know that I've been there at the bottom of that pit at different times in my life. Whether it be a friend (now turned husband) or my own, better self telling me: "Life is worth it!" I have been able to find my way to a happier self. The road is never smooth, sometimes it's pretty darn steep; but it's still an amazing journey.

I understand that you all have your own struggles and that you have your own road to travel. But, I would also like you all to know that I, and others in your life, are always here.


We probably won't have all the answers for you but we can listen, help shoulder a burden and together we can reach out for help. You have friends and family that will support you... you only need to let us know. We realize we can't fix everything, but we can be that hand reaching out to assist someone that we love and care about. We are not alone, and our friends and family want us to share our burden. It's part and parcel with loving someone. We are here for you.


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