You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind the walls
You that hide behind the desks...
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul
~ BOB DYLAN "Masters of War"
On April 17, 1956, Raymond Trejo Rivas was born in Las Cruces, NM. On July 15, 2009, Lt. Col. Raymond Trejo Rivas died as the result of taking an overdose of medications. He was found in his car in the parking lot of Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, TX. Suicide? Perhaps. My take? Murder in the first degree. Perpetrator? The U.S. Army and the U.S. politicians. Co-conspirator? The American public
I never met Lt. Col. Raymond Trejo Rivas. He had no influence in my life. Ever. Then I met Andrew Rivas out on Rt. 180 in 2010 while training for my cross country bicycle ride. It wasn't earth shaking or special in any way, really. Andrew was just another cyclist that I'd met on the road. But the reason he was bicycling was different. It was to celebrate and remember his brother. Now, Lt. Col. Raymond Trejo Rivas was having an influence in my life.
This year, Andrew is riding (he just finished today with an honor ceremony at 2pm today in Las Cruces, NM, for his brother) the 4th Annual Lt. Col. Raymond T. Rivas Memorial bike ride from Flagstaff, AZ, where Andrew lives with his wife, Dawn, to Las Cruces, NM. Nothing flashy. Just a bike ride. What it represents is multi-faceted, however, perhaps unbeknowst even to Andrew. One thing, the love of a brother. Another, the death of a soldier. Lt. Col. Rivas' death certificate probably states, incorrectly, that it was "self-inflicted". A suicide. How very wrong that piece of paper is. How very wrong were those who came to that conclusion and put it down as "cause of death". We're talking first degree murder. Planned. Thought out. Executed. And Lt. Col. Raymond Trejo Rivas is the face and name in this situation, but there are thousands that are dying as a result of their mistreatment by the military and the U.S. politicians. Doesn't matter if that politician is Republican, re"THUG"lican, Tea Party, Democrat, Independent. They're all involved in this. Fact is: we send these people to places where they'll be placed, prominently, in harm's way. Another fact: the military, the politicians, and those who vote, that would be us, don't truly put our money where it's needed. Sure, I can spout off and proclaim it's because of this or that, but the FACT remains that these people...our sons, our fathers, our brothers, our mothers, our sisters...are dying because they are not getting the necessary medical care and rehabilitation, physical and mental, needed to help keep our loved ones alive. To at least give them a chance to live and return home, finally.
The number of suicides among those in the military has increased astronomically. 350 soldiers killed themselves in 2012. More than were killed in Afghanistan last year. Since 2001, at least 2,700 soldiers have killed themselves. Over half of them were never deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. One cause? Brain injury. Real cause? Not enough medical, psychiatric, rehabilitative care for those subjected to multiple tours of duty and a failure to provide the resources to the military to take care of those affected. A study in JAMA Psychiatry found that troops with multiple concussions were significantly more likely to report having suicidal thoughts than troops with one or no concussions. Watch this CNN video on Lt. Col. Rivas. The number of soldiers killing themselves has gone up 80% in the military from 10.3 per 100,000 to 18 per 100,000. Everyday, 22 vets kill themselves. Almost one every hour. Every day. A NY Times article worth reading is here. Stars and Stripes has another good article here.
If you would, please take a moment and send an email or a letter to your Representative and Senator in Congress asking them their position, and voting record, on the V.A. and support in the military for those in jeopardy. To whoever may be reading this...it's very likely you, or someone you know, are aware of their own "Lt. Col. Raymond Trejo Rivas". For them. For you. Take the time and ask our politicans to do the right thing for a change. And remember those who failed to help provide those needed resources for our military...for our family members and friends...and vote accordingly the next time that person seeks re-election. And let them know that you will remember their record.
To Andrew...Eileen and I enjoyed having you stay with us. It was good to ride with you on Thursday morning to Rt. 152 to keep you company for a while. Next year, I'll meet you in Holbrook. Now, a tune to exit with...Lakota Flag/Veterans Song sung on the Pine Ridge Reservation of the Oglala Lakota Nation in dedication to all warriors, past and present.