Remembering Everyone Deployed
Brandon Santiago | Writer
While many unwind on the weekends, have a drink, or spend time with family and friends, there are deployed military service members who don’t get that luxury.
On Fridays, people around the country, and even around the world, wear red to support the deployed servicemen and women and to remind everyone to keep them in their thoughts.
R.E.D. Fridays is an acronym that stands for ‘Remembering Everyone Deployed.’
According to the United States Department of Defense, the National Guard currently has 22,000 service members deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq even though the wars are over with.
Here at Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC), Peter McElroy, a decorated 20-year Navy veteran and the Veteran Affairs Certifying Official for the school, said LCCC has more than 300 veteran students.
“For me it's (R.E.D. Friday) a reminder that my Friday night, and most peoples’ Friday nights, are going to be different from some other servicemen’s Friday night,” said McElroy. “Just kind of remember that there are people out there making sure that you can have that drink, and you can meet with your friends, and you can go to the job that you want to because there are people out there doing that.”
The trauma of deployment, especially multiple deployments, takes its toll on military personnel’s mental health. Issues with mental health and military servicemen and women have been an issue for quite some time. Many may not be knowledgeable of the fact that it happens close to home as well.
“Carbon County has the worst suicide rates,” said McElroy, referring to veteran suicides in Pennsylvania.
According to a U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs survey, there were 27 veteran suicides per 100,000 people, which is almost twice the statewide rate for the civilian population of 14 suicides per 100,000 people. This is just counting Carbon County.
“I would love to see more vets take advantage of the facilities that we have here for them. We’re having a hard time with vets getting through school,” concluded McElroy.
The Veterans club sells R.E.D. t-shirts for an ongoing fundraiser where all funds go back to supporting the club. The T-Shirts cost $5 and are available to purchase at the registration office.