As I sit down to send off this Blog post, it is halftime at the Army-Navy Game - one of the great traditions in our nation. The Cadets of West Point and the Midshipmen of the Naval Academy are facing off as rivals today, but they stand together as brothers in fighting a common enemy - the epidemic of suicide among military veterans and active duty warriors.
I cannot say enough about the impact of "The Invisible Front." Retired Army Major General Mark Graham and his wife Carol lost two sons in battle. Jeff was killed by an IED in Iraq. Kevin succumbed to the wounds of chronic depression by taking his own life shortly before he was to be commissioned as an Army second lieutenant after completing the ROTC program at his beloved University of Kentucky.
The stark difference in the ways that friends and the public reacted to the deaths of Jeff and Kevin have caused the Graham family to take a deep look at how our military and how our society treat those with PTSD and depression and who may threaten or commit suicide. During the final years of his Army career, General Graham was zealous about doing all that he could to make changes from the inside of the military bureaucracy. This book unblinkingly examines the successes, frustrations and failures in his attempts and those of Mrs. Graham to bring about significant changes. Those efforts continue unabated now that he has retired from the Army.
This story is so moving and so disturbing that at several points in my reading I had to stop and wipe the tears from my eyes so that I could continue. Yet the book is not just an emotional grenade; it is a call to action for anyone who shares the Graham's frustration with the inadequacy of our present approach to treating PTSD and depression.
Near the end of the book I read about the man that the Graham's daughter, Melanie, would marry. What a surprise when I put two and two together to discover that her husband is a young West Point graduate I know well. My next step in responding to this book is to reach out to the Graham family through my friend Joe to offer my help and that of my network in the campaign to give meaning to the deaths of Jeff and Kevin Graham.
This is a book to be read and then shared. I challenge you not be be moved to action by the power of its message and the courageous testimony of the Graham family.