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What "It's a Wonderful Life" Can Teach Veterans and First Responders About Mental Health During the Holidays

What "It's a Wonderful Life" Can Teach Veterans and First Responders About Mental Health During the Holidays


Every Christmas season for as long as I can remember I've watched Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.

If you're unfamiliar with the storyline, it's about a small town guy who time and time again puts his own life on hold to serve those around him. Whether it's sacrificing his dreams for his family or forgoing profit to help serve his community, George consistently makes the hard choice to do the right thing, even when he gets hurt or puts his own happiness second.  After a string of terrible luck, in a crushing moment of depression George loses sight of everything he offers the world and decides an insurance policy is more valuable to his loved ones and community than his life.

An angel named Clarence, working on earning his wings, saves George from drowning after jumping in a frozen river and shows him what the world would be like without him. From the help he offered his family and friends as a child to the positive impact he's had on his community, Clarence shows George what I wish every Veteran and First Responder could see when they're so beat down by exhaustion and Post Traumatic Stress that they make terrible choices they can't take back.  They're unable to realize their depression is the worst liar they could ever meet.  

In the story George is able to realize the mistake he made by jumping in the river and how his depression and moment of despair were clouding his judgement in the worst possible way.  George is able to take back his decision, Clarence earns his wings and George goes home to his family and friends who have rallied to help George out of the jam he was in.

Of course real life isn't as fantastic as George's. We aren't all going home to perfect lives at the end of the day. Our problems and struggles all can't be solved in one night let alone one year or one decade, but lives worth living are possible for everyone.  Almost daily I hear about stories of Veterans or First Responders or civilians, that are able to hang on one more day and finally connect with resources, new opportunities or new perspectives that set their lives on the right track of post traumatic growth.  The tough part is everyone's journey and circumstance is different. The solutions can be hard to see. The only thing that's for sure is if you hang in there, decide to keep moving forward, wait for the storm to pass, you too will realize that the those storms come to pass not to stay.    

It's a Wonderful Life was made in 1946 and was actor Jimmy Stewart’s first role after returning from WW2. Stewart had flown 24 combat missions over Europe, lost many friends, narrowly escaped death on countless occasions. In the scenes where he's praying to God that - while not a usually a praying man - he's at the end of his rope and needs helping finding the way, it's been said that Stewart channeled the hopelessness and despair he had been experiencing as he did his best to stay strong through the horrors of WW2. Our lives and paths towards healing after service are different for us all.

Freedom Hill Coffee Roasters and Freedom Hill Press were founded to Honor America's Heroes and help our heroes in crisis.

From helping support great organizations like Stop Soldier Suicide and other organizations that support our Heroes after service, everything we do is dedicated to the memory of my friend Brian who didn't have the chance to see what he meant to the world when he made a choice he couldn't take back. OUR STORY 

This holiday season and all year please take every opportunity possible to show those around you what they mean to you.  If you're struggling and thinking the world might be better off without you, I can tell you with 100% certainty that your depression is lying to you and that there are paths towards help for you out there as long as you stay in the fight.  

Please share this story of hope for anyone in your life who may be struggling in silence.

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