While the phrase Charlie Mike may not mean much to civilians, to military personnel it means a lot and can be one of the driving factors to better understanding the mindset of military personnel as they move from active duty back to civilian life.

The term, used throughout the military, is code for “continue the mission”. In the face of mounting adversity, one must continue the mission no matter the difficulties.

Charlie Mike is used during military operations that experience a delay, or for individual issues such as minor injuries, discomfort, or even pain. Over time, military personnel learns to silence complaints and “continue the mission”.

When service ends and the transition home begins, Charlie Mike continues. The new mission is a reintegration into a society the veteran may no longer recognize. Their vision is clouded with the experiences of combat, war, and lost friends, but the veteran “continues the mission” and may bury their feelings, have trouble focusing their attention, may feel isolated, struggle with war injuries and memories, respond poorly to prescribed medicine, and so much more.

Years pass, memories and feelings remain buried, complaints are silenced, and the mission continues. The seasons change and the strong, young veteran, becomes a more fragile and older version of himself or herself. Relationships may become fractured, and a sense of purpose is replaced with a sense of hopelessness.

Over time, these thoughts can turn into thoughts of suicide. In 2020, 6,146 veterans committed suicide. These figures only account for veterans with a VA connection. The actual figure is unknown and expected to be much higher.

Organizations like Hero’s Bridge are developing programs to address the issue of aging veteran suicide. We are joining the larger effort of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to minimize suicide risk factors and boost protective factors such as a sense of connectedness, a mission or purpose, physical health, social and emotional well-being and so much more.

In June, Hero’s Bridge expanded its Battle Buddy services to include Northern Virginia to offer a suicide prevention call center for veterans over the age of 65. This effort was funded by a grant from the State of Virginia, VA Dept of Veteran Services. The call center implements a dual-focused assessment that includes both quality of life and suicide risk. “We have found that organizations rarely consider both senior and veteran factors when conducting assessments. With the aging veteran population we serve, we have two distinct assessments to consider all factors affecting aging veterans,” said Molly Brooks, CEO and Founder of Hero’s Bridge.

Hero’s Bridge is proud to be among the organizations listening to our aging veterans and hearing what they are saying, or more importantly, that which is left unsaid.

Read about our Battle Buddy expansion.