The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.
This month gives health care providers, public policy makers, the media, and individuals an opportunity to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury. The response has been overwhelming with thousands of awareness activities in the USA and around the globe.
We publish this submission by one of our brothers in Da Islands … stand strong!
Thank you for standing up for men. It’s not popular to care about men today. White people are demonized for the racist failures of some in history. Police officers are disrespected due to the shortcomings of the few. Men are despised regardless of their individual contribution to family, community and country. It’s a confused, divided time in our nation.
Due to the exploding opioid epidemic, I was trained by a unique CDC program associated with the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. I volunteered to assist men and Veterans with addiction and drug abuse issues in jails, prisons and community organizations.
Loneliness, alienation, isolation drives much of this negative behavior. Many of these men suffered abuse and neglect as children and teens. One 45-year-old man shared with us how his grandfather gave him his first injection of heroin when he was 12. Addicted as a child. Our nation punishes and incarcerates rather than rehabilitate. He spent his life in and out of prison due to his addiction.
As a 60+ year old professional, I battled numerous injuries and chronic pain. Doctors offered opioids. Due to my training, I experimented legally with medical cannabis. This alternative medication worked for me.
Hawaiian Electric recruited me for an IT position. Perfect fit. We made an outstanding team. They offered me a permanent position. How wonderful for all. I read their corporate code and my medication appeared in compliance. I asked HR to be sure. The female rep told me I would “be fine.” I consented to their pre-employment drug test.
As expected, we received the results of my positive screen the next week. No problem. The next day, the company informed me I was selected and set my start date. Everyone was excited for me! Congratulations. This was a huge deal to our family.
Came early to work Monday for my first day. About noon, HR called me and fired me on the spot. Said my medication was not allowed. Bye!!! Get out of the building now. I was devastated. Legs so wobbly I could not walk. Just a flood of tears flowing down my face. Shame! Shame! Shame!!!
Can you understand my humiliation and feel my pain? I was labeled a drug criminal in a professional occupation. The company never intended to hire me. They all deceived me; led me to believe I was hired. I stood on the ledge of my 25th floor window contemplating suicide.
My training pulled me back from the brink. I spoke with my doctor, but had to do the heavy lifting. Day after day I battled horrible depression, suicidal thoughts, and intense guilt, shame and frustration. My wife left early for her job … I spent my days totally alone.
To survive, I began writing my thoughts to express myself and relieve the internal rage, bitterness and overwhelming feelings of defeat. I focused my energy on helping others who might suffer similarly. I fought to be returned to my job; I sought to change the backward policies in Hawai’i.
Unable to sleep, difficult to walk, I sat near the ocean through the nights. Couldn’t sleep; couldn’t quiet my mind and the endless destructive thoughts.
I begged Hawaiian Electric CEO Connie Lau, Thao Tran, Susan Li and Shana Buco simply to speak with me. Denied. Refused to even discuss the policy or termination. Expected me to go away. Didn’t allow me to reapply for the position. I was dead to them professionally.
All coincidentally were women. Women who we all have supported, nurtured and encouraged into more lucrative and respected positions. Seemed to me they lost their compassion on their way up the ladder.
I spoke up. I pleaded for a discussion, a conversation, a Hawaiian culture ho’oponopono, an opportunity to correct this miscommunication. Silence … go away, boy! We don’t care about you, creep! You are not even a human being to us.
I wrote to the HR director [Shana Buco] who fired me. “I know you’re a good person. Know Liz Deer [other HR rep] is as well. Also assume there simply wasn’t a sophisticated training program to prepare all of you for medical cannabis issues. I want you to know I don’t blame you for what happened. You can’t pass on what is not passed to you. Leadership comes from the top.”
I added, as I needed to express my feelings, to be heard, to step back from the brink of ending my life:
“Can’t stop crying, Shana! I’m not the monster you think I am. I’m in so much pain. Each night as I go to bed, I ask god to take me. I beg … please, no more!!! Please!!!”
Now the attorney for the company, Randy Whattoff, partner at Cox Fricke here in Honolulu, uses my pain and need to express these destructive feelings against me. They continue to portray me as a monster. They take my emotional distress and weaponize it against me. They crushed my soul and now strive to extinguish all hope in my heart.
This is why men take their lives. This is how society treats men who suffer emotionally. We must remain silent. We must somehow pretend to be strong.
I’m a former athlete. Was saddened a couple weeks ago to watch young, talented Naomi Osaka struggle with her emotions and anxiety. She told the world of her introverted personality and how she suffered depression. Love from around the world flowed to her.
However love does not flow to a male who needs help. Ask people like Robin Williams. I’m now the age when he took his life. Men must suffer in silence — until it’s too late.
“He wasn’t feeling well, but he didn’t let on to me all that was going on. As he would say to me, ‘I’m a little crispy.’ I didn’t know what was happening, except he wasn’t happy.”Billy Crystal
I feel there is little hope for me, but my situation may help others. Veterans are dying because they cannot access medical cannabis or someone with whom to talk. Men are in prison as they can’t get assistance from a world that abused them.
There are now some 70 MILLION Americans with a felony charge — prison rather than rehabilitation. Most are male … that’s one of every five citizens who now are considered a criminal. A high percent have drug-related charges on their record. They cannot get a job. They are unwanted. Many are homeless, most hopeless.
Thank you for being that hope and light in this dark time.
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Ko’olau of Kaua’i. I am the Defiant One
“I Believe We Can”