I go to VA several times a month to keep healthy. What I did not do in the military was take care of myself, physically or mentally. Today, my health is my first priority. Not so I can lounge around on the couch and watch Netflix all day, but so that I can still make a difference.

A recent story set off a flood of articles suggesting that Veterans should not be treated as victims. I have never considered myself a victim, and neither do my Veteran friends. I have a great job, am active in many areas of my life and struggle in many also. Veterans are using resources to lead fulfilling lives, not to be regarded as victims.

Until we stop highlighting struggles and weaknesses, and look beyond a disability to the ability, we will struggle to encourage Veterans to use the care available. VA provides care and resources on a daily basis and Veterans are thriving. We all have to maintain and care for ourselves and that may take time. No person on the planet excels without preventive and ongoing care. We all live longer these days due to improved care. Veterans are no different. If we do not get care and maintain a healthy lifestyle, we will not thrive for long.

My brother and sister Veterans define strength for me. I see Veterans at every stage of recovery and transition. Some are doing well to attend a baseball game, others are in school online or starting a Veteran Org on a local college campus. Some are running with groups, mentoring others behind them, and many are getting ready to take on leader roles in companies across America. And many more are leading fulfilling lives and careers.

Accepting help is a display of strength rather than weakness.

Accepting help is a display of strength rather than weakness.

All Veterans have succeeded. I do not care what you have done, if you received an Honorable Discharge, it is an achievement that 99% of America will never obtain. Now, in order for us to excel as Veterans, we most constantly grow, adapt and improve. And that is where VA is a great resource. While VA is not the sole resource, VA does take the lead. There are many fine Veteran Service Offices, State Benefits and other Organizations that strive to lend a helping hand. And that is just Awesome!! But I caution everyone to STOP suggesting that accepting help is for victims.

You see, it is my belief that Veterans have a greater fear of admitting weakness than being a victim. That fear is so great, that even fellow Veterans suggest a broken mentality if one seeks or accepts help…It is my belief that Veterans are the first to suggest that a Veteran is gaming the system or taking advantage or “playing the victim.” But in fact, it may be that the Veteran is accepting help that allows for healing, growth, transition, etc.

For all Veterans, I suggest a paradigm shift in how we view those accepting help. I submit, they are actually stronger than those that seek or suggest that they need no help at all.

It seems to me shallow and arrogant for any man in these times to claim he is completely self-made, that he owes all his success to his own unaided efforts. Many hands and hearts and minds generally contribute to anyone’s notable achievements.

— Walt Disney

It’s a difficult process to change your mind on something so personal, but here’s some great advice on how to do so: Stop Thinking that Accepting Help is a Sign of Weakness.

There is not a victim mentality of Veterans, but a healing process and a optimistic future for those strong enough to take a helping hand or support one.

VA has providers assisting and caring for Veterans nationwide. If you want to be one that lends a hand up, then apply today at VAcareers.va.gov.

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Published on Jun. 13, 2014

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