September 26th is a pretty lousy day for me; something which occurs each and every year, and will continue to do so for as long as I live.
For as long as I live.
Words that can't be used by everybody. Not Freddie Gray, nor Michael Brown, nor Trayvon Martin, nor Mark Richard.
What? You've never heard of Mark Richard? Small wonder. Mark Richard wasn't black, didn't attack anyone and didn't have an arrest record 18 incidents long. He didn't have a President schilling for him on national media to garner votes and public opinion. He didn't have a family looking to the government for a $6 million payday for their actions or inactions which caused his death.
Mark Richard was my younger brother. A son to my Mom and Dad, a husband, a father to three boys, and a man who served his country honorably in the U.S. Army. And like too many other vets sent off to fight for and defend this nation's interests, Mark Richard was abandoned by the government that sent him in harm's way.
There's been no shortage of sympathetic press coverage about how blacks are being "targeted" by police and are dying at the hands of cops in tragic numbers. And while there is some truth to this narrative, the statistics cited are both misleading and (from a press standpoint) incomplete. Some sources cite as many as 2,900 citizen deaths by police between 2003 and 2009. There is no breakdown of race for these deaths, nor is there a breakdown of deaths which were deemed "justifiable" due to the actions of the people in question. However, despite all the attention being given to this present-day issue, the act remains that the vast majority of people cited above, whether black or white, were at least suspected of breaking some law or threatening the officers in question or the public at large.
But while news story after news story decries the tragic deaths of approximately 420 people PER YEAR by the actions of an arm of local government, there is barely a peep about the same number of suicides committed by U.S. military veterans IN JUST 19 DAYS. In fact, if you took ALL the people killed each year by police, whether justified or not, whether black, white, Hispanic or other national origin, it would take you 19 YEARS to equal just ONE YEAR of suicides by our military men and women.
No parent, sibling, child or friend should ever have to receive a call as I did four years ago today. While over 300 black lives each year killed by law enforcement is a tragedy, over 8,000 veteran suicides each year is a national disgrace. The government which sends these fine young men and women off to war should at least provide the mental health treatment needed to help them when they return from these foreign adventures. This government fails miserably in that regard.
How about it, Mr. President and your minions in the media? Do MILITARY lives matter?
R.I.P. little brother. You're missed more than you will ever know.
Hi! I'm Dave Richard, your host. I hope you enjoy your visit. We'll be talking about current events, politics, the occasional sports (I'm a HUGE New England Patriots fan, so get over it), and some "Get off my lawn!" issues.