In Honor Of Ryan Fournier – In Their Own Words
VIP Warriors racing Madeira Beach triathlon on 4 June 2017 will be racing in honor and memory of this hero who lost the battle in 2016.
I hate seeing these tragedies. Before I joined the Army, I believed suicide was for the weak and cowardly. I believed suicide was a selfish means of dodging reality. But now I see more and more service men and women, whom I have a lot in common, take their own lives.
This story had me in tears. I also deployed with 1-5 Cav out of Ft. Hood in 06 to 07 to Iraq and later to Afghanistan with 1-502 in 2010-2011. I have seen some of the same horrors that can twist a person’s mind to hatred and desperation. I to lost family to war. I also was a dismount carrying a 249B machine gun and mounted gunner with both the M9 50 cal. and MK19 40 mm grenade launcher. I missed the birth of my child. I have returned home to lonely a perade field to only settle into an empty barracks room, with only my thoughts and a bottle. I have also arrived home to a family who had established their own routines and al felt like sometimes I just got in the way or in some way I was a burden.
I have been through multiple marriages and a divorce. I spent every Thanksgiving either in training, war, or in a shitty Chinese restaurant. I endured all of this and I could always push on. It stung, but while I was in I never had to endure this alone.
My military family was with me. They made it possible, they lightened my burden and the best part was, the harder shit got, the closer my family came.
When I got out though. The dreams didn’t go away, the rage didn’t go away, but my support did (at least physically) and my loneliness grew. My wife would try to help, but i felt weak to speak out. I felt like, she depended on me and for that I needed to be solid for her and my family.
So I tried to push the feelings back, push on and I enrolled in college. I tried to make it work. I really wanted to slip back into my prior military routine, but I wasnt successful. I was surrounded by strange people, not just strangers, but the ideas and opinions civilization just felt strange to me. I soon came to the realization that these people weren’t the odd ones, but I was. So I exiled myself in hopes to better hide how different I was, but without luck. I was much older than everyone else, I walked different, acted different, my life experiences and fondest memories evolved around war and combat training.
I had also lost my buffer for people’s feelings. It wasn’t like I was trying to be mean, but if there was an issue I didn’t sugar coat my point. Just find the problem, fix the problem and move on.
I later got in some trouble at school and left without a degree. I saw this as if I had a mission and I failed, but I didn’t just fail myself I failed my family. It was all so overwhelming, I have a family to support and got booted from school. What was I going to do now? How was I going to support my family? What qualifications did I have? I have a stack of medals and awards, all of which I am proud of, but in the civilian world they meant dick. Just some words to fill space on my resume.
I finally got lucky when I landed the career I am currently in. Not just; because, of the actual work itself, but my employer respects military and has always tried to understand my past.
I later found VIP Warriors, a group of people I don’t feel weird around anymore. It is like being back on deployment at times without all the dangers just a team on mission. The point I am trying to make is, when those times got rough. I thought about suicide a lot. To be honest, if it wasn’t for my wife and daughter I probably would have went through with it. But I got lucky, I found a good career and a good team. Others didn’t and I realize now that; all though I still view suicide as a long term solution for a short term problem, those who take their live’s are not weak. It is difficult, to try to fit in a world of individuals when all you want is to be part of a team. I will be racing for one of my former soldiers and friend Hagan McCarty who chose to take his life two years ago tomorrow.
Chris M Hill