Only recently have I been thinking about the link between professional sports players and service people. Both whilst working in these areas are admired and held in high regard with respect of their position,but also the uniform and rank they hold. You could ask what brought me to thinking about this, well the death of Dan Vickerman an Australian rugby who had to retire due to continued stress fractures of his leg and him making the decision to take his own life.
I don't write to trivialize this but more to put people in the picture of the correlation between the position of a solider and a professional sports people. They both are employed in environments where there in daily contact with their team mates both on and off the exercise realms and therefore build a big bond with them and are used to being disciplined in there chosen field, but what happens when they retire or are discharged, well in the services you are given a copy of the rehabilitation of offenders act, which just reflects that you were in an institutionalized environments where you where told what to do and think for 24hrs a day 365 days of the year. Now you have to think and fend for yourself, which can be a daunting prospect for a lot of service people, quite a lot end up homeless and living on the streets or unable to interact in normal day to day life, due to not being helped mentally or emotionally from the scars of war. Don't get me wrong the mental health advances in the services has increased greatly since the second world war, but we can and always should do more, but I don't think if it wasn't for help the heroes and charities like that, it wouldn't be so much in the public eye, in regards to the duty of care of The Military Covenant I don't believe it is being upheld. There are still to many people dying from suicide due to PTSD and other mental health disorders.
Going on to sport people, there has been a few deaths in rugby due to suicide, Jon kirwan the famous All Black was the first person I know of to highlight depression in sports and he went on to write a book called All Backs don't cry, which was made into a film, Jonny Wilkinson, Vinnie Jones, Freddy Flintoff, Ricky Hatton and many other sports people have come forward to highlight this subject, which I believe has saved many lives.
In regards to Dan Vickerman he was an amazing player with a career cut so short so early, but more so a life cut so short, when you are in sport you are used to being round lots of people and being admired and having a purpose, then when you retire you have less of those people around and are left to your own devices , but also then trying to find a purpose and adjusting to the quietness and loneliness. I don't say this to depress you, but more so highlight how you can go from a peak to a low and the importance of talking to people and making time to talk to people and encouraging them and supporting them. I'm not saying this would have saved him. I'm not God and I wouldn't dream of disrespecting Dan's memory and what was going on in his mind.
Anyway this is just my thoughts for today and to put out a thought for Dan Vickerman. RIP