(This is not a suicide letter)
Tonight, as a United States Marine with 3 combat tours to Afghanistan, a Bronze Star w/ "V" for valor (heroism), Purple Heart, and 2 Navy Achievement Medals for actions in Afghanistan… I thought about SUICIDE. I didn't think about it because I thought life was too hard. I didn't think about it because I didn't think I could conquer whatever obstacle lies ahead. After all, what can stop a Marine…Nothing.
I thought about it because after all my years of service, training to fight and fighting on our nations behalf of freedom and safety I found myself not in service to my true calling, my obligation, my oath to protect this nation. I found myself laying on my barracks room floor, wishing I was still in Afghanistan. Remembering the harsh nights of rain, hail, and snow over our heads as our mud hut that we fought so hard to get, caved in on us… I truly missed those nights. For in that misery, among the cursing and laughter I felt my soul [if one could say we have one], at peace. I was serving my purpose. I was doing what needed to be done, not because it was easy, but because it was hard. All the talking and chest bumping couldn't put a man in my shoes that night. It was OUR night, the night of gladiators. But those days and nights have passed and as I go from one medical appointment to the next, not training Marines about things I've learned through blood and sweat, dealing with all the people who tell me what they would have done in war, getting all the advice from people who have never been on the receiving end of enemy fire on how to deal with my nightmares and of course being belittled by your local 1st Sgt, I think what is my purpose now? To wait around and be forgotten? To have my experience and expertise washed away in my mistakes?
As a Marine, as a defender of nations and preserver of freedom I feel misplaced with idol hands. I feel left behind by a country who promised me peace after war… As I laid on my floor thinking about it, I decided not to be one of the 22 (who committed suicide everyday). I decided that if the nation and Corps have forgotten about me then so be it. But they are not the world, or my end aspirations in life. And I want everyone of you veterans out there of every service to remember. Your life doesn't stop when your initial purpose is completed. You simply need to re-orientate and attack a new objective. Take the peace you have earned and go after your dreams that you have fought so hard to preserve.
If I help one veteran from giving the pricks the satisfaction then my courage in writing this message will have served its purpose.
Cpl Eric Stump