Like many local residents, we are frustrated that the “We Support Our Troops” sign has been removed from Bank Square. Even though 90 percent of us agreed with the message, the sign was in violation of the city’s new sign ordinance, so down it came.
Nevertheless, we are reminded that there are several ways to support our troops, the most meaningful of which is to volunteer to help the families of deployed service personnel while their loved one is out of the home. Another way is to make a gesture of appreciation to them by offering support and friendship after they return.
Time Magazine reported this week that we are now losing more soldiers to suicide than we are on Middle East battlefields. Many of the people we are sending into harm’s way halfway around the world are returning home suffering from extreme emotional distress.
The military and the federal government are finally waking up to this situation. Programs are available to help.
We don’t presume that all of us are mental health professionals, but it still makes a difference if we show our support with time, attention and friendship that goes beyond any physical sign that we may post. If we truly appreciate the sacrifices that these soldiers have made on our behalf, then we need to re-enforce that appreciation when they return home. If we suspect they need help, we need to encourage them to get the assistance they need. Too often, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Locally, Morrison County continues to move toward certification as a Yellow Ribbon Community. Operation Yellow Ribbon is designed to provide the community support network that our soldiers and veterans deserve. Part of that includes the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) program that educates employers on how to treat employee/soldiers fairly while they are honoring their military obligation.
You can send a “sign” that you truly support our troops by getting involved in these programs.