Fighting the Battle Within
In the past 40+ years, since the end of the Vietnam War, we have lost more American heroes due to suicide than all foreign wars and conflicts in that time period combined. Despite the very best efforts of family, friends, the VA, and scores of highly dedicated veteran’s based organizations, approximately 20 veterans each day are lost to us due to complications from wounds and injuries we cannot see.
That’s 7300 brave men and women a year who volunteered and stood on the yellow footprints and swore an oath to protect and defend our country. They proved this commitment, many seeing and experiencing the unimaginable in our name. Unfortunately, they made it through one war, only to come home to fight another.
The Brothers of Harmonie Lodge No. 699 O.M. had their Damascus Road moment when this ongoing tragedy personally touched them. A Masonic Brother, Captain Peter Schank took his life in 2017 at the age of 30 while battling depression and post-traumatic stress. A veteran of three deployments to Afghanistan, Brother Schank exemplified our Masonic ideals, dedicating his life to a balance of service and academic pursuits.
In the end, support offered by friends and family were not enough, as Peter chose to end his pain after several years of intense struggle. Nearing the end of his life, Peter most heavily relied on his Masonic Brothers, as he found himself, at times, without shelter, or his next meal. Those same Brothers have now come together to raise awareness of this national epidemic and begin efforts to de-stigmatize how psychological trauma is regarded in today’s society.
A very peaceful, tree covered hill along the Naval Park’s Heroes Walk was chosen for the memorial. Construction on the memorial has begun with its formal dedication and cornerstone laying scheduled for May 27, 2019.
It is our sincerest goal that this simple monument will help to capture the public's attention, underscore the veteran communities commitment to easing the suffering, and honor our heroes for their service, regardless of where they died.