On a dark night in Tall Afar, Iraq, one of my best soldiers was caught in an ambush close to an Iraqi elementary school. The rocket that hit him severed his right leg at his hip. I heard the scream of medic and knew it wasn’t good. No one thought he would live through that night, but thankfully we were wrong.
Little did I know how that firefight, and others, would change so many of us for the rest of our lives. Nor did I understand that even when I came home, the war would come home with me. My personal experience after war, with all the common symptoms, led to discovering a need for a new organization to empower our warriors and families dealing with combat stress and PTSD.
Not Alone (www.notalone.com) provides assistance to soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, as well as their families, across the United States. Based on the principle that veterans are our nation’s greatest citizens, we assist those men and women who have been in combat with their lives after war.
Unbeknownst to most of our country, many of our current generation of warriors are returning with combat stress, PTSD and depression. Suicide is actually one of the leading causes of death within the United States Army. Not Alone’s work begins as soon as these warriors arrive home. We work with warriors, veterans and families with a range of programs that provide mental and behavioral help in a confidential, anonymous way at no-cost. Many people do not understand that the DOD and VA cannot possibly cover or help everyone that needs it. That’s where we step in and fill the gap in care and recovery. With over 2 million Americans that have now served in the war, each one returns changed, and the need is great.
Not Alone’s role is like a medic in combat, we seek out and help those that need it in areas that no one else can, or is willing to go. For many of us that have fought multiple combat tours, our road to normalcy has not been, nor will be easy. When you meet us you will notice our toughness, our attitude, and our spirit. We are here to help others find their strengths.
At Not Alone we embrace our mission knowing the sacrifices that have been made by these warfighters and their families while the rest of us enjoy the peace they have created through our history. My story is not unique. I am but one among millions now, and Not Alone’s mission is to help each and every one that needs it.
However, we need your support to continue this mission. To that end we ask each of you to do something to give back. We ask each of you to serve, even if you aren’t wearing the uniform. Help us to raise awareness of our programs and honor our servicemen and women.
Even though it’s been years since that fateful night and I am no longer an Army infantry officer, I will always think of all my soldiers as my responsibility. I ask you to join with me to help our warriors as part of our obligation to these young men and women who have sacrificed so much. For more information please visit our website, www.notalone.com, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us at 888.454.0950.
Mike Jones, a 1996 West Point graduate, was an Infantry officer in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now Executive Director of Not Alone, a 501c3 that provides programs, resources and services to warriors and families impacted by combat stress and PTSD through a confidential and anonymous community.