A Father’s Grief

For a minute, please put away whatever opinion you have on the US military operations, and please take the time to read this story. I am not trying to sway you one way or the other. This is a human interest story only.

My friends at Blue Star Chronicles found an article in the Dallas Morning News about Roy Velez, a Christian who has lost two sons in the United States’ war on terrorism. It is a lengthy article, but well worth your time to read. Please read the article, and then scroll down.

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Because I am a Christian and a previous caretaker to a family member with a severe mental illness, I feel like adding my $0.02.

Both sons were human. They made mistakes in their lives. However, both were men of character, answering the call of their country without looking back. Even after losing his brother, Andrew went back to Afghanistan to continue to serve his country. At a time where he could have said “I won’t serve” without anyone questioning his character, he honored his commitment to his country, even over the objections of his father.

The reason for hiding my observations with empty space follows. As you read in the story, Andrew was not killed by enemy fire, but a self-inflicted gunshot. Some would cheapen Andrew’s character, saying that he made the decision to take his own life. Some Christians would even question his salvation because of his manner of death. I say that both groups are absolutely wrong.

There are a lot of soldiers who suffer mental illnesses as a direct result of the totally unnatural rigors of war. Adults that aren’t old enough to have attended their fifth high school reunion are watching close friends violently murdered, killing other human beings, and enduring many stresses that no human should ever have to endure. I believe that war induces mental illness in two ways. Sometimes it is caused directly because of what the soldier experiences, while others already have a chemical imbalance that predisposes them to illness. War is merely the trigger to set off what is already in place biologically.

My ex-wife has several mental illness diagnoses. Sometimes she is a wonderful, generous person with a big heart. However, I’ve also seen her at her worst. Yelling, hitting, destructive, and also extremely suicidal. During lucid times, she has expressed the opinion that suicide is nothing more than a person’s decision to end their own life. But if someone’s brain causes someone to end their own life, isn’t that indication enough that their brain is not working correctly? If your arm is broken, your brain tells you that it’s broken, and that you need to get it fixed. If you’re having trouble breathing, your brain tells you that you need to get medical attention. But if your brain is broken…how would you know to get help? The fact is: you don’t.

Andrew’s brain was broken. We don’t know if he had a predisposition towards mental illness before he went to war, and it really doesn’t matter. His brain had suffered injuries because of experiencing combat and the loss of his brother, injuries which turned out to be fatal. The manner in which he met death does not make his sacrifice any less heroic than his brother’s.

If you are a Christian reading this and you question whether or not Andrew is going to heaven…don’t. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that suicide nullifies the payment that Jesus made for his sins, and the notion that it does was invented by man. If I’m wrong (and God knows that I frequently am), please correct me. And if you’re not Christian, save the “organized religion” crap for someone else.

Please continue to pray for their father that he would experience many blessings for the extremely noble way he has handled these tragedies.

Category: Christianity, Military

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