• Why Us? Because Suicide, Depression and Addiction Aren’t Selective…


    Last week was a highlight for me. It marked a milestone for a journey that I hadn’t asked to be on. In fact it was a military mental health nightmare that I’m happy to wake up from. I’ve written about my son’s suicide attempts, addiction to prescription meds and alcohol and his struggles with PTSD, Depression and Anxiety. But until last week I hadn’t seen the “reason” behind our families experience. I couldn’t get past the why us.

    Why Us?

    Why did we have to almost lose our son to understand that military life (and life in general)  had become too much for him to handle. Why our son, our family? I now understand the answer. Because we are the perfect people to share our experience. I’m not saying this because of conceit, I’m saying it because we are the average military family: 2 kids (boy & girl), a cat, a dog, a mini-van and us. We vacation to visit our families and we move every 3 years. Our kids did well in school, both received scholarships that paid their tuition. They were active in sports, had lots of friends and volunteered.

    So Why Us? Because if it could happen to us it could happen to anyone.

    Last week my son and I were invited to speak about our experience and the DASIUM program we started a few months ago at the 2014 MOAA Warrior Family Symposium. The topic: Behavioral Health in Military Families. You can see what we shared below, but that wasn’t the highlight of the event. Sure seeing my son knock it out of the park and share something so personal in front of so many leaders, spouses, organizations and military brass was incredible.

    But the thing that hit me was the countless times people pulled me aside saying “that could be my kid”, “he doesn’t look depressed”, “he doesn’t act like an addict”, “your family doesn’t seem like the type” – whatever type they had in mind I do not know.

    No he doesn’t…and no we don’t. Which is the answer to “WHY US”.

    Suicide,  depression and addiction aren’t selective. In fact the number of military families living thru these situations is rising at an alarming rate. And we have been asked to help change that. Whether by choice or circumstance we are in the fight to bring awareness to the growing crisis affecting teens.

    You see until my son spoke many people assumed he was another expert. Suit, Tie, grin and all. The room was silent as we shared our story and he became the face behind the mission to stop the stigma and bring awareness to what’s really happening in military families. Our message that these issues don’t discriminate was heard loud and clear.

    We changed mindsets and lives that day, and that’s the thing that will stick with me and gave me my answer to “why us”.


    ~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up  and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com

  • As I browse my social media feeds I notice so many people are fed up and unsure of the direction of their lives. It reminded me of a post I wrote a couple of years ago when my son was stressed about what he would do with his life. Fast forward nothing he even considered was to be his path; life took him in a totally different direction. And it's more than ok not only for him, but for any of us [...]

    Read more

    You may have noticed I've been a little quiet lately.  Between the passing of my mother-in-law, supporting my husband, handling military life and dealing with all the feelings of my own, I haven't had the focus to do much else than the bare necessities. And I have been feeling guilty for taking a much-needed time out from anything that drains me physically or emotionally and just staying in my[...]

    Read more

    Sometimes as we traverse military life it can feel as though we live separately from the outside world. We have our own lingo, we take pride in things others take for granted and our day to day challenges are very different from our civilian counterparts. Because of this we need to build stronger coping skills and hone our self care strategies so that we are prepared - especially for the stuff[...]

    Read more

    Have you ever noticed that sometimes in military life it seems as though every time you turn around someone or something  just keeps getting in the way of your dreams?  It may feel like for every idea you have or action you take there is someone out there telling you it can't be done or how it won't work.  They may even share a suggestion as to how to do it "the right way". After church [...]

    Read more

    As we kick off Mental Health Awareness Month I want to begin with some insight that my son had over the weekend into how social media really steals the joy from our lives. He shares this piece of writing with me and I was struck by how it opened my eyes to the connection between social media and our military mental health. His excerpt highlights the reality of living with the challenges of [...]

    Read more

    I'm inclusive, I reach out to the newcomer, I'm supportive of all military spouses and I love my military life. I'm all of these things; UNTIL I'm not. And today it's been brought to my attention that without realizing it we have once again alienated the male military spouse. Don't see it? Neither did I...that is until today. This morning as I was sharing information on a free military [...]

    Read more

    Last night I attended an event that is part of a week long tradition among the Engineer Regiment. As part of military life and regimental week here on Fort Leonard Wood, military spouse events are as much a part of the weeks powerful lineup as the laying of the wreath ceremony, best sapper competition or the Regimental Ball. And this years Engineer Spouses Night Out didn't disappoint. [...]

    Read more

    1 of page 30