By: Wounded Warrior Project Public Relations Team
A Lifestyle of Firsts A rmy veteran and Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Alumnus Joshua Burnett will tell you there are a lot of firsts in military life. The first time he put on the uniform, the first day of basic training, the first cold water shave in the field, or the first non-commissioned officer he admired and wanted to become. Recently, Burnett has been struggling with another first.
for treatment after a lengthy period of ignoring the symptoms. His family began to worry, and his loving wife pleaded with him to seek out help.
“I have thought about the world without me,” Burnett said. “I have thought about my life and how much it means, and I have thought about ending it all. I say now, for the first time, after a decade of denying it to family, friends, doctors, and brothers and sisters in arms, that I have thought about suicide.”
Burnett sought out treatment. The days and weeks with neuro-psych at Walter-Reed and Bethesda were some of the longest of Burnett’s career. The endless testing began to produce results. The physical and mental medical concerns were numerous--- Burnett knew the situation was dire. It nearly drove him to his breaking point.
Burnett says that many reasons have stopped him from following through, but his family has been paramount in keeping him going. “I couldn’t bear the thought of three fatherless boys and the idea of my wife Allison struggling to understand why,” said Burnett. He explained that he also worried greatly about what his suicide would mean for the soldiers who looked up to him every single day. “I came to realize that ending my life would not only affect my wife and sons, the most important reason I backed off from those thoughts, but it would also tarnish every single guiding word of positivity that I had ever shared with one of my soldiers,” Burnett said. “The training and mentorship I provided to thousands of soldiers, over the course of a 14-year career would mean nothing at that point.” Like many who suffer from the invisible wounds of war, Burnett self-referred
HOMELAND / March 2016
“My wife was lost and guilt-ridden in her inability to help me cope after almost a decade of ignoring symptoms,” said Burnett. “I reached a point where I was no longer able to perform daily tasks my position required.”
“It felt like my Army no longer wanted me,” Burnett reflected. “I was at the top of my career, and I realized I might have to accept that it was ending. My first thought was that was the beginning of the end.” Burnett says it was at this point when WWP provided him a resource that changed everything. Burnett joined WWP’s Peer Support program, designed to help wounded veterans develop friendships with fellow warriors who are further along in their recovery process. The goal of Peer Support is for the warrior being mentored to eventually mentor a fellow warrior – embodying the Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) logo of one warrior carrying another. Currently, nearly 100,000 wounded service members, their family members, and caregivers receive support each year through free WWP programs and services. Through a high-touch and interactive approach, the WWP vision is to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history. www.homelandmagazine.com