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Jacob Schick: Fighting for Veterans' mental healthJacob Schick: Fighting for veterans’ mental health
This Memorial Day, almost 10,000 people will attend the Carry The Load's Dallas Memorial March to honor the sacrifices of military service members and their families.
Jacob Schick will be among them. As Chief Executive Officer of the One Tribe Foundation, Jake focuses on helping veterans and first responders strengthen their mental health to prevent suicides.
Jake is a third-generation combat Marine veteran who was severely wounded in Iraq in 2004 when a triple-stacked tank mine detonated below his vehicle. As Jake described it, "It was a bad day at the office." He’s had over 50 operations and spent 18 months in the hospital. But the stigma around his mental health traumas was more damaging than his many physical injuries.
"In the military, we are conditioned not to talk about mental issues. We’re not allowed to be weak," he said. "Ironically, the strongest action you can take is to ask for help."
A new mission
In 2019, about 17 U.S. veterans died by suicide every day. Jacob started the One Tribe Foundation to combat this tragic trend. One Tribe empowers veterans, first responders, law enforcement officers, frontline medical workers, and their families to build strength and community by riding motorcycles, hiking and camping, and using evidence-based therapy.
"Everyone can relate to a hard life or tough childhood," he said. "We are all humans, we all have demons. We can’t sweep it under the rug, because we’ll end up with a mountain under the rug."
It’s OK to not be OK
Working out is one way Jake stays centered, along with prayer and meditation. He never expected to be a public speaker, or to manage a non-profit. As he tells it, "A bunch of miracles got me here. I didn’t die in battle. I didn’t overdose. But so many friends died by suicide."
Jake says suicide is never the right answer, as it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. "So we’ve got to talk about it. We have to lean in and love hard," he said. "Either you pull someone up, or let someone else pull you up."
These days, Jake does a lot of public speaking to corporate employees, high school students, and professional sports teams. "I tell my audiences, ‘Strap in. This is going to get bumpy.’ and then I spill my soul," he said. "I challenge them to dive deep, to find the courage to wake up and confront their demons."
Marching for the fallen
When Jacob walks for Carry the Load, he’ll join his friends Heather Lynn, her husband Bryon, who is also a Marine veteran, and their four children. Heather said, "It’s important to us to teach our children to honor the men and women who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom."
Heather is national sales associate and community engagement coordinator for TruLabs. "It’s sure to be hot that day," Heather said, "So we’re supplying TruLabs HYDRATE to everyone who is walking. We’re also raising funds for Carry the Load and One Tribe Foundation to continue to help our veterans."
As an eternal student of life, Jacob doesn’t have all the answers. "That would be boring," he said. "God didn’t let me die in battle like a gladiator. He’s not done with me. So I keep learning. I’m thriving, not just surviving."
We all need to acknowledge our emotional pains, forgive ourselves, and move forward, which may mean getting professional therapy. As Jake said: "We all have the same goals: to love and be loved. But first you have to love yourself."
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One Tribe Foundation: @onetribefoundation
Carry the Load: @carrytheload