One in five service-members struggle with service-related mental health injuries and there are over 8000 veteran suicides each year. At 22 a day (these numbers are very under-reported, only 28 states reporting data) this is a major epidemic.
For me, the adventure and mountaineering has been very "therapeutic" giving me a goal and mission. I joined the service in 1987 and served off and on till 2013. Between peacetime and war, I have experienced many things... on top of that I am bipolar and struggle with suicidal tendencies and even prior attempts. We started Summit for Soldiers because it is very much our own therapy, purpose and mission as we hope it to be to the veterans and families we serve.
Along with everything else we are trying to accomplish at Summit for Soldiers, last year I was given the chance to attempt to climb the highest mountains on each continent. So far I have summited Aconcagua (S. America), Kilimanjaro along with my wife (Africa) and attempted Everest in 2014 (Asia). Now I will attempt the highest mountain in North America... Denali at 20,320ft.
There are 3 reasons why I am doing this. First: To show and hopefully encourage other veterans that you can go from being a "dis"abled veteran to becoming "re"abled veteran capable of taking on great challenges and goals. It doesn't have to be mountains, thats just what I have chosen! Second: To draw as much attention as I can to our message revolving around PTSD and veteran suicides, but also the many resources that are available to our veterans and families. Third: Perhaps the most important purpose to me and many of those apart of SfS is to carry the "Silently Fallen" flag which has the names of those we have known that have lost their battles with their silent wounds. Not only do we want to honor and remember their service, dedication and sacrifice to this country, but to give them a voice to help us begin to eliminate these tragic losses.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Please follow the climb, SHARE it on Facebook, Get as many people to "like" our page so we can take full advantage of this opportunity to SPREAD THE WORD and get veterans and family members to come out and be a part of our growing program at Summit for Soldiers. Visit www.summitforsoldiers.org
Follow this blog for updates and to TRACK my progress. Thank you so very much, but I need each and every one of you to help me/us reach out and help us save the lives of our brothers and sisters.
Semper Fi - "Doc" Fairman