If you can imagine believing that your own strength is what keeps others alive, even at the expense of your own well-being, you might be close to imagining what it's like to live inside the mind of a veteran.
But who gives strength to the heroes who support us should they need it? This catch-22 is exactly the conundrum so many veterans face.
What should happen first is this: Someone dials the number 800-273-8255, and presses 1.
It's the number for the Veterans Crisis Line. It's so important that places like this exist — so very important that in 2012, President Obama doubled its staff.
The VCL is exactly what it sounds like. Some of its call responders are veterans, and many more are friends or family members of veterans who can understand what they're going through.
These folks stay on the phone. They follow up. They try to ensure that the person calling is able to get help from local services.
People at the Department of Veterans Affairs are committed to preventing veteran suicide. Even one death by suicide is too many.
While the suicide rate nationwide has been climbing, the suicide rate among veterans receiving health care from the VA has dropped.
The VA is committed to preventing veteran suicide at large, in particular through programs like the Veterans Crisis Line.
Some veterans need even more help. That's where the Veterans Crisis Line comes in.
It's hard to reach these heroes. And it's hard to give them the power to realize that there's so much strength in putting yourself first and taking care of yourself.
"You know when you hit a baseball and you ... get that crack? It's like that when you're able to hear a person smile. And make a difference."
Each of us has the power to reach out to a veteran. If a veteran gets help, things can get better.
I'm sharing because I want every veteran to know about this. It might save that person's life.
If you or anyone you know needs support, pick up the phone, dial 800-273-8255, and press 1 — or visit the website to reach a caring, trained responder for a confidential online chat and to connect with other resources.