Medal of Honor recipients talk to Marines about suicide
By Amanda Wilcox | The Daily News, Jacksonville, N.C. | Published: December 12, 2012
A Medal of Honor recipient tapped into the brotherhood of the Marine Corps to encourage the young Marines at Camp Lejeune to recognize the warning signs of suicide in a fellow Marine and also to seek help if they need it.
"Trying to hide something if you've got a problem is not manning up," Retired Maj. Gen. James Livingston told a room full of Marines. "Manning up is demonstrating love for one another. It's taking care of each other."
Livingston and retired Army Maj. Drew Dix, who both received the Medal of Honor in 1968 for valiant actions in Vietnam, spoke to the Marines Tuesday at the base theater aboard Lejeune in an effort to reduce the stigma associated with seeking help after combat.
"The strength of the Marine Corps is in the camaraderie of the Corps," Livingston said. "We are the most unique brotherhood in the world; there's no bigger brotherhood -- no bigger fraternity -- than the U.S. Marine Corps."
Dix took a different approach, reminding the Marines of the resources available to them on base and telling them to take advantage of the programs designed to help.
"You have the responsibility for your actions completely," Dix said. "You've got so many programs in front of you, you've just got to take advantage of them."
Both Livingston and Dix commended the troops for their actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying some of the battles, especially the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, are on par with the most historic battles of World War II and Vietnam.
"You are the absolute best there is in the world," Livingston said. "You aren't going to let your buddies down, and you aren't going to let the country down."
After the Medal of Honor recipients were finished talking, they opened up the floor to questions from the Marines. One sergeant asked how the honorees thought he should talk to some of his junior Marines who haven't gotten a chance to deploy and probably never will. He said his Marines feel like they're missing out on a large part of the brotherhood.
Livingston told him that those Marines should remember that being shot at or not being shot at doesn't define them as a Marine.
"What defines you as a Marine is being so ready (to deploy) at any moment, that none of those S.O.B.s want to take you on," he said, to which he received a loud "Oorah" from the audience in return.
Dix told the Marines to be careful what they wish for, because they never know when another war might come around.
Cpl. Jude Collins, who has never deployed, said he was glad the honorees addressed the issue of Marines feeling like they've missed out on the war.
"It's definitely something that I think a lot of my fellow Marines that haven't deployed think about often," Collins said. "Sometimes you feel like you're not living up to your standard as a Marine ... but (hearing the two speak) definitely helped me out."