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Archive for the ‘Veterans’ Category

Combat Flip Flops Veteran Art Auction

Thursday, September 30th, 2021

Over the last two months, the world witnessed an unprecedented event within the borders of Afghanistan. The only thing that matched the nature of the loss and destruction has been the positive effort of the veteran community stepping up to aid in evacuations and transit of interpreters, journalists, athletes, and activists.

Although the media seems to have already moved beyond the event, human beings are still trapped within the borders of Afghanistan. Veterans and private citizens are still working to move them to safety. Without support of the United States Government, organizations continue to raise money to assist in the transportation and resettlement of refugees–because the reality is that this freedom isn’t free. It takes money.

Combat Flip Flops enlisted the effort of renowned artists to donate art to auction to assist in these efforts. For a limited time, you can bid on limited edition art to raise money or resettlement efforts.

Launching the initiative is InvaderGirl and Matt Galbraith. For more information on the art available and incoming, please visit the link: www.combatflipflops.com/AAA

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Veterans Suicide

Sunday, September 12th, 2021

“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” — President George Washington

With today being the day after the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and September being suicide awareness month, I wanted to write about something close to me. I have lost some very good friends to suicide — people you never thought in a thousand years would take their own lives. They were among the best dads you could ever meet, truly the people you think of when you imagine great fathers. As colleagues, when it came to being a team guy, a teammate, or friend, you couldn’t find better ones. Since the war on terror started, we have lost a lot of brothers and sisters to war, but we are losing four times as many veterans to the effects of war than to the war itself.

Most of the time, suicide is only discussed when it is or affects someone close to you. I think it is very misunderstood, specifically when it concerns what causes people to do it or even to think that it’s the only way out. I believe there is a lot of speculation and misdiagnosis, but I also think no one really wants to talk about it. Many veterans are suffering from a host of different things that can be both physical and/or mental. Depending on what report you read, up to 22 veterans commit suicide every day. Some reports are higher and some lower, but they are not that far apart. Regardless of the daily number, Veterans have the highest suicide rate amongst ANY group.  It is not just the vets from the War on Terror, either. This number represents all the wars and conflicts from which we still have survivors.  And it’s not only a U.S. problem, as many of our allies are dealing with the same issues.  If you know someone or you might be having problems, PLEASE talk to someone, anyone.  The Veterans Crisis Line is 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.

I have lost some very close friends to suicide, and I never want it to happen to anyone. Please look out for the signs and symptoms; sometimes they are easy to see, while other times you have no clue, and it will happen to someone close to you.  But if you are thinking of hurting yourself, please talk to someone. If you believe the world is better with you not in it, it is not. The people you leave behind will always have to deal with what happened and still have to think they could have done more. I know I do, but I also know I did all I could have done to help. But there will always be that .01% that thinks “I could have done more to help my brother”.  People, especially military people, are good at hiding things and it’s not always easy to see. Please keep an eye on your brothers and sisters. I look at the military as a family.

www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/suicide/symptoms-causes/syc-20378048

Join Kuiu In Helping The Families Of The Fallen Soldiers And The Wounded As They Tram Up With Recon & Sniper Foundation

Saturday, September 4th, 2021

DIXON, CA

KUIU, the leading manufacturer of ultralight performance hunting gear, is teaming up with the Recon & Sniper Foundation to raise funds for fallen soldiers’ families and the families of the injured soldiers after the recent bombing in Afghanistan. The brand is asking the public to support the cause and Kuiu has pledged and since contributed a $25,000 match to the Kabul Fallen Fund.

“The tragedies unfolding in Kabul serve as a sobering reminder of the sacrifices our brave military men and women, as well as their families, make.” Comments Philip McGinty, Vice President of the Recon & Sniper Foundation, “The Recon & Sniper Foundation has partnered with KUIU to launch the Kabul Fallen Fund. The mission is to provide immediate and ongoing support to the families of the fallen warriors and wounded. The lives of these patriots and their families are forever changed, the least we can do is stand shoulder to shoulder to share their burden.” 

So far $129,000 has been donated towards the families through the Recon & Sniper Foundation which works to enhance the quality of life for service members, veterans, and their families. 

“KUIU is humbled at the opportunity to step up and partner with such a great organization to help support the Kabul Fallen Fund,” says Justin Shaffer, Sr. Program Director of Guide and Outfitter at KUIU. “We were heartbroken to hear of the incredibly sad loss of our 13 service members and the 18 that were wounded in this senseless attack. We recognize that it’s a long road ahead as these families of the fallen and wounded continue their healing and grieving process, we want them to know they are not forgotten.” 

To make a donation to the Kabul Fallen Soldiers fund, click here. To learn more about how you can help the Recon & Sniper Foundation and how they help service members, veterans, and their families, visit their website at reconsniperfoundation.org.

GORUCK – How You Can Help – Afghanistan

Tuesday, August 31st, 2021

GORUCK sent this out to their email subscribers yesterday. Many of us are frustrated because we can’t help the situation and this post gives us some hope. But no matter what you do, do NOT let our elected officials off the hook on this. Write them, call them, and remind them what a disaster was created here and that there will be consequences for our country and the world community for not only emboldening the Taliban, but arming them as well. Also, we’ve lost 13 fine young Americans, the best our nation has to offer. We need accountability so that this won’t happen again.

September 1st the Taliban will shut down the cell towers and continue hunting down, one by one and with increased effectiveness, those most loyal to the American cause for the past 20 years. We even gave them the list to help them carry this out.

If you’re wondering how you can help, this is one way.

A small group of Special Forces and other SOF members have established what’s called Task Force Pineapple as part of Operation Recovery (a 501c3 non-profit). They are operating out of an Ops Center in America, activating and reverse engineering 20 years of human networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the surrounding areas to get all US Citizens and as many Afghan partners — the people we served with and their families — out of the country. This will happen over land through a country under Taliban rule, full of Taliban checkpoints, activating safe houses and ratlines and an underground network operating in secrecy. It’s a classic Special Forces mission which requires a bunch of pissed-off and highly motivated Special Forces soldiers — and with your help they can save even more lives.

Without any official US military presence as of September 1st, this is exactly how America can still represent and carry out our highest ideals — given the ground truths, this will happen in the shadows. It does not matter at this point what should be happening, or who to blame. There will be time for that, there always is. What is happening right now with Task Force Pineapple is what we do have, and it’s growing stronger by the minute. 

Before the bombing at the Kabul Airport, this was the precise symbol to get inside the wire. So far, over 500 lives have been saved with this symbol. It has since been changed — but the spirit remains and it is one of hope and sacrifice in line with our highest values as a country. Namely, loyalty to our friends and partners. Task Force Pineapple will not stop operating just because the U.S. is officially leaving. The Underground will grow. More lives will be saved.

Unfortunately, the Taliban will also grow stronger.

I know personally the people who are running TASK FORCE PINEAPPLE and I vouch for their character and effectiveness. We will not be able to save all of our partners, but we will damn sure try.

To aid and support the mission, here’s the patch for sale. All proceeds to benefit Task Force Pineapple. Or you can donate directly to them below.

Jason McCarthy

10th Special Forces Group, 2006-08

Founder, GORUCK

Purchase a patch here

Donate here

Dept of Veteran Affairs Message Regarding Dealing With Events In Afghanistan

Wednesday, August 18th, 2021

There are loads of vets out there like me who don’t interact with the VA, so we don’t get emails like this. Thanks to my friend Thulsa Doom, I’m sharing the contents of an email that went out on Monday. Please share this with friends.

Veterans from all eras are reacting to the events in Afghanistan, such as the U.S withdrawal and the takeover by the Taliban.

You are not alone.

Veterans may question the meaning of their service or whether it was worth the sacrifices they made. They may feel more moral distress about experiences they had during their service. It’s normal to feel this way. Talk with your friends and families, reach out to battle buddies, connect with a peer-to-peer network, or sign up for mental health services. Scroll down for a list common reactions and coping advice.

Resources available right now

• Veterans Crisis Line – If you are having thoughts of suicide, call 1-800-273-8255, then PRESS 1 or visit www.veteranscrisisline.net

? For emergency mental health care, you can also go directly to your local VA medical center 24/7 regardless of your discharge status or enrollment in other VA health care.

• Vet Centers – Discuss how you feel with other Veterans in these community-based counseling centers. 70% of Vet Center staff are Veterans. Call 1-877-927-8387 or find one near you.

VA Mental Health Services Guide – This guide will help you sign up and access mental health services.

MakeTheConnection.net – information, resources, and Veteran to Veteran videos for challenging life events and experiences with mental health issues.

• RallyPoint – Talk to other Veterans online. Discuss: What are your feelings as the Taliban reclaim Afghanistan after 20 years of US involvement?

Download VA’s self-help apps – Tools to help deal with common reactions like, stress, sadness, and anxiety. You can also track your symptoms over time.

• Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) –  Request a Peer Mentor

• VA Women Veterans Call Center – Call or text 1-855-829-6636 (M-F 8AM – 10PM & SAT 8AM – 6:30PM ET)

• VA Caregiver Support Line – Call 1-855-260-3274 (M-F 8AM – 10PM & SAT 8AM – 5PM ET)

• Together We Served –Find your battle buddies through unit pages

• George W. Bush Institute – Need help or want to talk? Check In or call:1-630-522-4904 or email: [email protected]

• Elizabeth Dole Foundation Hidden Heroes – Join the Community

• American Red Cross Military Veteran Caregiver Network – Peer Support and Mentoring

• Team Red, White & Blue – Hundreds of events weekly. Find a chapter in your area.

• Student Veterans of America – Find a campus chapter to connect with.

• Team Rubicon – Find a local support squad.

Common Reactions

In reaction to current events in Afghanistan, Veterans may:

• Feel frustrated, sad, helpless, grief or distressed

• Feel angry or betrayed

• Experience an increase in mental health symptoms like symptoms of PTSD or depression

• Sleep poorly, drink more or use more drugs 

• Try to avoid all reminders or media or shy away from social situations

• Have more military and homecoming memories

Veterans may question the meaning of their service or whether it was worth the sacrifices they made. They may feel more moral distress about experiences they had during their service.

Veterans may feel like they need to expect and/or prepare for the worst. For example, they may:

• Become overly protective, vigilant, and guarded

• Become preoccupied by danger

• Feel a need to avoid being shocked by, or unprepared for, what may happen in the future

Feeling distress is a normal reaction to negative events, especially ones that feel personal. It can be helpful to let yourself feel those feelings rather than try to avoid them. Often, these feelings will naturally run their course. If they continue without easing up or if you feel overwhelmed by them, the suggestions below can be helpful.

Strategies for Managing Ongoing Distress

At this moment, it may seem like all is lost, like your service or your sacrifices were for nothing. Consider the ways that your service made a difference, the impact it had on others’ lives or on your own life. Remember that now is just one moment in time and that things will continue to change.

It can be helpful to focus on the present and to engage in the activities that are most meaningful and valuable to you. Is there something you can do today that is important to you?  This can be as an individual, a family member, a parent, or a community member. Something that is meaningful to you in regard to your work or your spirituality? Such activities won’t change the past or the things you can’t control, but they can help life feel meaningful and reduce distress, despite the things you cannot change.

It can also help to consider your thinking. Ask yourself if your thoughts are helpful to you right now. Are there ways you can change your thinking to be more accurate and less distressing? For example, are you using extreme thinking where you see the situation as all bad or all good?  If so, try and think in less extreme terms. For example, rather than thinking “my service in Afghanistan was useless” consider instead “I helped keep Afghanistan safe.”

Finally, consider more general coping strategies that you may want to try including:

• Engage in Positive Activities. Try to engage in positive, healthy, or meaningful activities, even if they are small, simple actions. Doing things that are rewarding, meaningful, or enjoyable, even if you don’t feel like it, can make you feel better.

• Stay Connected. Spend time with people who give you a sense of security, calm, or happiness, or those who best understand what you are going through.

• Practice Good Self Care. Look for positive coping strategies that help you manage your emotions. Listening to music, exercising, practicing breathing routines, spending time in nature or with animals, journaling, or reading inspirational text are some simple ways to help manage overwhelming or distressing emotions.

• Stick to Your Routines. It can be helpful to stick to a schedule for when you sleep, eat, work, and do other day-to-day activities.

• Limit Media Exposure. Limit how much news you take in if media coverage is increasing your distress.

• Use a mobile app. Consider one of VA’s self-help apps (see www.ptsd.va.gov/appvid/mobile) such as PTSD Coach which has tools that can help you deal with common reactions like, stress, sadness, and anxiety. You can also track your symptoms over time.

PTSD Coach Online. A series of online video coaches will guide you through 17 tools to help you manage stress. PTSD Coach Online is used on a computer, rather than a mobile device, and therefore can offer tools that involve writing.

If you develop your own ways of adapting to ongoing events and situations, you may gain a stronger sense of being able to deal with challenges, a greater sense of meaning or purpose, and an ability to mentor and support others in similar situations.

Combat FlipFlops – Written in Taliban

Monday, August 16th, 2021

Over the weekend Matt Griffin and Matt Chapman, founders of Combat FlipFlops posted a look at the current situation in Afghanistan written from the Taliban’s point of view. It went viral and in typical Technogarch fashion, social media censored it.

So here it is. Read it all the way to the end.

Written in Taliban

The first time I saw you was in the Khyber pass.  You came with your technology, elite fighters fueled by revenge, and the hubris to believe you could disprove history.

This was a war that you didn’t have the stomach to fight.  But I’m glad you tried.  

We bled you the same way we bled the Soviets in our Holy Land.  We bled you the same way the Vietnamese bled you in their home land.  We did it patiently and deliberately.  

Patience.  Something Westerners never learn.  

Our history is millennial.  We don’t yearn for an early victory when the Infidel ravages our Holy Land.  Our victory is celebrated decades from now.  We’ve endured, then ravaged every standing military that crossed our borders.   Why?  How?  We’re patient.  

In 30 days, we’ll be stronger, richer, and have control over precious natural resources that you need for your pathetic life that’s dictated by comfort.  We will have women, riches, land, guns, and ownership of one of the greatest chapters in military history. 

You lose. 

If you want to try again, we welcome the challenge.  You will fail regardless of how much money you burn in our deserts. For pity, here is free advice that may contribute to your future success; should you ever decide to invade again.

You recruit your warriors and supporters from a drug addicted, distracted, disillusioned population that’s obsessed with comfort and entertainment.  A population obsessed with altering their mundane reality.  Alcohol, marijuana, pills, and our new favorite — Tide Pods.  Every time your doctors prescribe opiate painkillers, you line our coffers with gold.  Your population’s thirst for our pristine heroin has never been more lucrative for our warrior tribes.   We will keep feeding you poison for as long as you keep your hands out.  

If your population wasn’t so spineless, undisciplined, and self loathing, then you might be able to compile a raiding party with enough tenacity to outthink ours. 

Our fighters are born into war.  Raised in it.  It’s a way of life that evades your “first world” nations. They live a life of such immense misery and pain that they’re willing to fight barefoot in the snow for the opportunity to martyr themselves. They yearn for the opportunity to die.  When they do have the blessed opportunity to sacrifice themselves, they sit above Mohammed at the right hand of God.  Blessed in Allah for eternity

What honors do your fighters receive?  Their empty sacrifice is remembered in the form of a “three day weekend.”  The majority of your population uses this sacred time to get drunk and grow more fat as a way to celebrate their fallen warriors.  Sadly, we pay tribute to their death more honorably.

The colored pieces of cloth you pin on their chests are similar to the jewelry worn by our women.  What good are accolades and vanity if you don’t have the stomach to endure a fight?   We don’t offer the burden of healthcare to our fighters as they often want to die for Allah.  Your fighters fight to live.  Their inability to reconcile the inevitable outcome of our patience leads them to kill themselves.  Your medications, counselors and non-profits will never undo the pain and suffering you’ve forced them to endure.  It will never remove the pain we’ve caused your broken nation.  You are your own worst enemy. 

We will give your fighters credit.  Some are creative, tenacious, and fierce. They outgun us in every way possible.  But again, we simply wait them out.  Allah is patient.  You cycle them through our Holy Lands every 3 to 12 months for their combat rotations. After their tour is complete, they return to the comfort of their warm beds and endless entertainment.  If you left them here, in our Holy Land, with no way out but to win, then you might of have had a chance of success.  The longer you poisoned our Holy Land with your presence, your “rules of engagement” only strengthened our position. There is only one rule in war – that is to win. 

Your commanders made you fight with your hands tied behind your back. Your rules also confused our fighters too.  “We’re clearly the enemy, why are they letting us go?”  Thank you for your compassion as it allowed our fighters to kill more Infidels.  We began to feel as if your commanders were on our side.  We’re thankful your most vicious dogs were never allowed off their leash. 

Your showcase Generals make us laugh.  You spend millions of dollars flying them around our country inventing new ways to win, while ignoring the guidance of our most capable foes.  Your Generals make decisions to minimize risk to their fragile reputation with the ultimate goal of securing a lucrative retirement–jobs with suppliers that fuel your losing force. A self-serving circle that’s built on the backs of your youngest and most naive fighters.

Your retired Generals “earn” tens of thousands of dollars talking to your political, industrial, and financial leaders about “teams, winning, and discipline.”  It’s a mockery of the war they refused to fight.  It’s a mockery of the Infidel warriors who died in our lands. We urge you to continue following their vacuumous personalities so we can further watch your once great nation collapse. 

Your statesman and elected officials are spineless, narcissistic, and more cowardly than your Generals. They crave power over you above all else. They come to our country, hide behind blast walls, and only heed the word of the indiginous leader they put in power.   I believe your soldiers call this a “self licking ice cream cone.”  

They’ve burned billions of dollars in a wasted effort to bring clean water, electricity, business, education, agriculture, and exports to a region that didn’t ask for it.  You should have saved yourself the effort and simply given the money directly to us.  Don’t worry, your diplomatic friends gave us plenty of your American tax dollars.  If you want to give it another shot with your “soft power,” send those with real experience, not fancy degrees and silver tongues. 

Over the next few months, we will  make the world understand that you failed worse than any fighting force that’s ever invaded our lands.  Today we celebrate victory.  

As you evacuate your embassy, our fighters will be standing in the shade. We thank you for the parting gifts.  You’ll find surface-to-air missiles staged in the back of Toyota pickup trucks that you purchased for us.   Our marksmen will be patient.  

We saw what Extortion 17 did to your nation and the morale of your fighting force.  Do your citizens even remember that victory? We’ll be repeating and improving upon our victory while your citizens and sympathizers evacuate in disgrace.  Every one of your foes around the world will know exactly how to break you. 

You are welcome to fly your empty drones, target our cell phones, and send your spies.  But they, too, will ultimately fail.  We’ll use their failures to show the world that you’re not all-powerful.  You’re a false front.  An empty shell. You lie, cheat, steal, and are easily defeated because you lack the spine to fight.  This is your history now.  We’re grateful Allah gave us the opportunity to show the world how to defeat the Infidels. 

We look forward to seeing you again across the battlefield.

Praise be to God,

The Taliban

***Authors’ Note***

If you’ve read this far.  Thank you.  I’ve spent the past week trying to find a way to communicate this to the American people in a manner that would cause anger, rage, action, and understanding.  Writing in the voice of a Taliban felt right.

If this made you angry, cry, or contemplative–then our goal is achieved.  Our hope is that it inspires you to take action with your elected officials.  They’ve been repeating the same failing playbook since World War II with your sons, daughters, and tax dollars.  If you want this to keep happening, do nothing.  If you don’t, then do something.  If we all do a little, together we do a lot.

About the Authors: 

Matthew Griffin is a 2001 United States Military Academy Graduate, Army Ranger, Combat Veteran with the 75th Ranger Regiment (3x Afghanistan, 1x Iraq), CEO of Combat Flip Flops, author, and 2019 Henry Crown Fellow with the Aspen Global Leadership Institute. 

Scott Chapman is a 2000 Murray State University Graduate, Army Ranger Fire Team Leader from Alpha Company 2/75th Rangers (‘01 – ‘05), OGA Blackwater Alumni, entrepreneur, and author. Combat Veteran ( 21x Afghanistan, 1x Iraq)

Afghanistan: How Veterans Can Reconcile Service

Monday, August 16th, 2021

Major news outlets for the past few months have focused on the drawdown of our nation’s longest war: Afghanistan.

At its peak, there were more than 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2010; the number of troops have steadily shrunk over the past decade. While news coverage debates the decision to cease combat operations, the highest-ranking enlisted service member in the military said Veterans from the war should remember the positive to help reconcile their service.

“Our purpose for being there was to prevent further attacks on the homeland,” said Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman Ramón “CZ” Colón-López. “We wanted to make sure that we denied Al Qaeda, specifically, of sanctuary, training ground and places where they could plan terrorism attacks. If you look at the past 20 years, that is exactly what we did. There hasn’t been a single attack on the homeland. They will think twice about doing it because of our actions over the past 20 years. For our Veterans, be proud of what you did, because you have kept the country safe over the last 20 years.”

Deployment and PTSD

Colón-López has lived the war for two decades. He was an element leader with the 24th Special Tactics Squadron on 9/11. Shortly after, he deployed to Afghanistan on direct action and combat search and rescue missions to capture or kill high value targets. He also provided security for Hamid Kharzai, who later served as Afghanistan’s president. Now, as the senior enlisted service member, he serves as an advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on all matters involving joint and combined total force integration, utilization, health of the force, and joint development for enlisted personnel.

Colón-López admitted getting to a place of being proud of his own service wasn’t easy. Serving as a special operator in Afghanistan, he’s dealt with tragedy and personal demons. He said one of his personal hardest moments was hearing the death of Air Force Veteran Scott Duffman, who died with seven others on a mission in 2007. He also faced repeated deployments, placing both physical and mental stress on his body. While stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, a July 4th celebration in neighboring Albuquerque turned traumatic. The combination of the desert, smoke in the air, loud noises and smell of powder triggered his PTSD.

Years of dodging his PTSD led to heavy drinking, moodiness, hiding his trauma during physical health appointments and engaging in reckless behavior. Once, while stationed in North Carolina, he left work for his 45-minute drive home. By the time he got there, he was in tears. He went inside and talked to his wife, Janet, about his PTSD. While talking about it helped him, he said the breakdown was simply “mitigation.”

Seeking help

Colón-López said a mountain biking accident in Germany led to an ultimatum from Janet to get help. He crashed his bike while seeking a thrill to replace his combat experience.

“She said, ‘you’re going to the clinic now,’” he said. “It was liberating by the time I actually went in there. I thought I could fix myself and that is not the answer.”

He now encourages every Veteran to get help for PTSD.

“The first thing I will tell them is there is no shame in doing so,” he said, citing 20 years of combat operations in Afghanistan, as well as Iraq, Syria and other locations. “We’re resilient, we know how to suck it up, and we know how to power through it. But there’s going to come a time to where you won’t be able to do that.”

Dealing with the end of combat

While some troops have reconciled their service, not all have. With the recent news and announcements over the end of the Afghanistan mission, VA facilities also started seeing an increase in Veterans seeking help. Two psychologists from the National Center for PTSD said they are starting to see Afghanistan Veterans bring up issues around their service.

“Reactions aren’t always what people think they are going to be, and that’s okay,” said Dr. Jennifer Vasterling, the chief of psychology at the VA Boston Healthcare System and affiliated investigator with the National Center for PTSD.

Veterans should be on the lookout for red flags if news of Afghanistan starts changing behavior, said Dr. Sonya Norman, director of the National Center for PTSD Consultation Program. These include isolating, using alcohol, drugs or any increase in unhealthy behaviors compared to normal. This could even include things like excess work or video games.

Avoidance

Another unsuccessful coping mechanism many Veterans use is avoiding the topic.

“It can feel really good in the short term,” Norman said. “In the longer term, avoidance breeds more avoidance. It felt so good that one time that you begin avoiding more and you start doing less. Your world becomes so small, time over time, as you avoid more and more.”

Norman said that numbness can spread and snowball, where people aren’t feeling pleasure or joy. She said people can feel danger in relatively safe situations. For those people with PTSD, replacing traumatic wartime memories with thoughts and activities that make them happier can be difficult without treatment and may feel reluctant to let the memories out.

“It’s pretty hard to do on your own without treatment,” she said. “If you actually let the emotions from the time of the trauma flow, they kind of do their thing and someone feels a lot of relief. There’s room to bring in other positive memories and experiences, which are just as real.”

As an example, she used an analogy of a 17-room mansion, saying the traumatic memory may still have a room, but there will be 16 other rooms for positive memories.

‘Be proud of what you have done’

According to Colón-López, one of those positive memories Afghanistan Veterans should be proud of is the fact that U.S. troops arrived home safe. The last U.S. combat death was Feb. 8, 2020, more than 17 months ago.

“We had been there for 20 years, and I know because I was one of the first people to go out there on the first rotations. What we have done from then to now is phenomenal,” he said, pointing toward the progress made in Afghanistan, including helping stand up a government and building a military force.

“For any Veteran out there listening, be proud of what you have done,” he added. “Our government has made the decision and we have followed lawful orders.”

Watch Colón-López talk about mental health: www.facebook.com/watch/

Story by Adam Stump, Department of Veterans Affairs

UK Veteran Establishes Talisman Triathlon To Raise Awareness of Physical Resilience, Mental Health and Suicide

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

Former Royal Marines Commando and current RAF Physical Training Instructor Frankie Tinsley is setting out to do something extraordinary; establish the “Talisman Triathlon” which is the 1st Great British Triathlon. It is achieved by cycling Lands End to John O’Groats, linking swimming the longest lakes and climbing the highest peaks in Wales, England and Scotland in 14 days.

Tinsley’s motivation is two mates from the RAF, Andrew Shepherd from Ballachulish – Scotland who took his own life in 2016 and Andrew Morris, originally from Falmouth – Cornwall, who took his own life in 2017.

As Tinsley undertakes this amazing feat, he will be supporting the charity CALM in the movement against suicide

You can follow his progress on INSTAGRAM – @talismantriathlon or Twitter – TalismanTri

To donate, go here.

Tinsley is supported in his effort by CALM, HUUB, Ribble and ThruDark.