Statistics: Numbers and data we use to make points. If used properly, statistics can tell a powerful story. If used incorrectly, they become a weapon – a weapon we blindly wave around to show we’ve done our homework or that we have the answer.
Every Memorial Day, we see the statistics start popping up on social media… the number of veterans who died in combat, the number of veterans returning home, the veteran unemployment rate, the number of veterans that are impacted by PTSD. We hear these statistics and allow our brain to process them as numbers. We allow ourselves to gain confidence that we know the impact of these wars on our men and women. We allow ourselves to collect these statistics without understanding the story they are telling.
I thought I was an advocate for veterans. I really did. I knew these statistics and I used them relentlessly to encourage others to join me. But somewhere along the way, I realized my “just the facts, ma’am” approach wasn’t telling a story. It was a selfish way for me to dodge the responsibility of being vulnerable. It’s the easy route; for both myself and for those with who I’m sharing this. Listening might not be comfortable, but neither are some of the burdens our veterans carry nor some of the needless struggles they face in the civilian world.
If there is anyone with a story that deserves to be shared, it is those of our military men and women. Ask questions, get involved, make an impact. Dig deeper than the statistics, and get to know the men and women behind them. This holiday weekend, pay homage to our men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and for the human rights of others.