Posted on behalf of Marco “Maverick” Soto.
In 2012, we had a higher casualty rate on U.S. soil at the hand of our own veterans than due to the casualties of war in Afghanistan. Our veterans are committing the unthinkable act of suicide at an alarming rate and something must be done about it. I created the Maverick Movement to focus on what we can do to prevent suicide. I am all too familiar with the issue. I will help you see how this movement came about next.
I am an honorably discharged, non deployed veteran of the Gulf War/Desert Storm era. As a CMRT Certified/Pharmacy 4P051 I was exposed to some very difficult experiences that almost always resulted in loss of life. I was diagnosed with service connected PTSD and really felt it was a diagnosis only for my battlefield brothers, I call my heros. I didn’t want to understand or accept that I had PTSD until recently when I struggled with thoughts of suicide after a near death motorcycle accident. One night while I recovering from this motorcycle accident while resting in my home. I remember feeling guilty with my diagnosis and the physical trauma i would have to deal with. I felt guilty i had survived this accident while heros deployed hadent.
Eventually the after math of these emotional experiences played tricks on my mind and I slammed into my personal rock bottom. I sent my wife and family for “munchies” and commenced to execute my exit plan. I laid towels around the tub for easy clean-up and to avoid blood stains that would remind my family of my exsistence. I turned up the volume of my favorite track and put a .40 cal S&W pistol in my mouth. I closed my eyes and felt a teardrop down my face when the door to my master bathroom was opened. It was a God sent battle buddy who had stopped by out of curiosity to check on me. After an almost 3 hour standoff I was disarmed and treated. Turns out I was misdosed on my medications which led to the suicidal tendencies i had been feeling. This medication error was made by my local Veterans Affairs clinic and since been resolved. The Maverick-Movement is a personal debt I want to settle by paying it forward.
Soon after this particular time frame I was at my home watching television when the 22/day statistic about veteran suicides came up. The fact that 22 veterans take their lives every day in this country with no signs of letting up floored me. I became a computer and internet downloading monster like as if I was crazy. Researching and trying to make sense of this statisitc I struggled with that fact night after night. surfing the net trying to find the reasons for this epidemic and why it wasn’t being addressed.
I literally found myself counting days of 22 and set my alarm clock every 65 minutes to remind me somewhere I had lost another brother or sister. This developed into an obsession and massive energy was building in me every day this statistic danced in my mind. I remember someone telling me something along the lines of devaluation of my concern and a hint of the fact that i was the last person who could affect this epidemic. As a suicide survivor I was the last person to bring light to this epidemic and i should concentrate on regaining my own sanity and accepting my diagnosis. This comment and the built up energy soon right after those words were spoken. I regained my self confidence and in my former fighting spirit addressed him colorfully. I EXPRESSED myself in the most “Maverick” prone attitude by creating this movement. Since then, I’ve turned myself into a focused positive ball of energy and aimed it into veteran outreach. I’ve created custom Nike Cortez shoes, motorcycle Street-Fighter fairings, and t-shirts to market and sell to help raise awareness and prevention of soldier suicide. But it just wasn’t enough so that is when the formal Maverick-Movement.com was actually born.
The Maverick Movement Non Profit Organization is 501(c)3, 47-5556445 out of Texas that is focused on Soldier Suicide Awareness/Prevention. We are dedicated to make a change by creating a safe peer-peer environment where veterans can come together and honor our brotherhood’s sacred promise to be available for each other in these dark times that result in fatalities. As active duty soldiers we were always taught and trained to be each others keeper. We as Veterans need to step up to the plate and answer the call to duty to battle this epidemic. We also need strategic focus on the root of this issues and not only on the act of suicide, but instead the causes of it.
As a on a Veteran myself I would like to reach out for support of my fellow veterans to aid in the fight on Soldier Suicide Awarness/Prevention. I feel it is my and my brethren to take ownership and responsibility to prevent suicide. I have coined a term to identify with Veterans what soldier suicide should be referred as. In the military while on active duty if you are absent without leave you are punishable under the UCMJ. So with that being said i wanted to find a way to translate this epidemic into military acronym. With this in mind V.A.W.O.L. or Veterans Absent Without Leave – was initiated within our organization. This is a direct translation of the same offense but under veteran status if that makes any sense. Soldier Suicide has to be addressed seriously by the Veteran community and we must keep our promises to forever be each others keeper. By taking the secret unspoken oath of “I am my brother’s keeper” has been made by many generations before us . This soldier-to-soldier promise and oath should not be forgotten. This understanding has no expiration date and certainly does not absolve after your ETS (Estimated Date of Separation). We hope and pray that we can inspire veterans to own this epidemic and challenge themselves to the point that they become active on their brotherly promise.
The Maverick Movement promotes a particular mindset: first, confidence in one’s own strengths and failures. Secondly an acceptance of proper veteran involvement/intervention and duty owed within their respective communities.
This mindset will push the limits of positive and prevention type expressions. We hope to assist in create an active veteran surge for change. Our goal is in creating active veteran communities within their local communities nationwide. This is only way to combat and highlight overlooked veteran issues. This Maverick Mindset will never have an issue with positively speaking aggressively and unapologetically to shed light on this the epidemic. It will set the stage to finally correct any and every injustice that we as veterans have been subjected to. Again this Maverick Mindset has an unconventional approach that will be assumed by most to cocky or distressfully loud. I can assure you that it will be unapologetically aggressive because of the time sensitive issues we are trying to bring attention to. The fact is that we lose another heroic yet lost soul every 65 minutes. I am sorry but the time for political correctness and procedure are out in our book. This Maverick-Movement Mindset is a site fit for naturally born leaders, protectors, the patriotic ones that have the needed courage to question the responsible authorities to make them address this epidemic with a viable solution that feel that a aggressive intervention is warranted. Intervention that supports Veteran Non Profit Organizations/Charities with full government financial support and public service announcements to combat this epidemic on a national stage.
At the Maverick Movement, “silence is submission” and the problem of why this epidemic has not been eliminated.Only way to describe this issue is UNACCEPTABLE! Our rights to life and liberty are paid for with blood and written in sacrifice and this gift will not be lost to indifference – not on MY watch! Passionately EXPRESS YOURSELF! Don’t renounce what was given to you. It’s only a dream in other parts of the world, but it’s real here. It was a Maverick Movement Spirit that created the land we now enjoy and protect!