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The “V” in Movember Stands for Veterans

According to a recent interview with, “Movember is the world’s leading men’s health charity, with four focus cause areas in prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention. Movember is also the name of a season during the month of November, where men start clean-shaven and groom a mustache.” Many including myself grow a full beard as our commitment to Movember.

Let us not forget those who served

In addition, November 11 is Veterans Day; a day to express our appreciation to all living veterans of our armed forces for their service in the defense of our freedoms. A close friend (fraternity brother) and I recently published Letters In A Helmet — A Story of Fraternity and Brotherhood. Ron, is a Vietnam Veteran, severely wounded eight months into his tour of duty commanding a rifle company. Our friendship spans 50 years. While I served in the U.S. Army Reserve, I am a veteran, but fortunately did not go to Vietnam. Having lost friends in that war and my friendship with Ron over the decades is what helped me in my journey with prostate cancer. Yet today it seems we are turning a blind eye to our veterans with PTSD, prostate cancer, as well as other cancers caused by the use of the chemical Agent Orange used in Vietnam to deforest the jungles. Veteran suicide rates are very high. Roughly 22 per day or one every 65 minutes according to a VA study.1 They fought our battles abroad and lost their war upon returning home. We must do better.

Why we need to focus on men’s health

While writing today I read an article written by Allex Tanzi of the Washington Post whose byline was “Men’s life expectancy continues to decline.” He cites the National Center for Health Statistics from their annual report.

The good news (and I am paraphrasing ), is that if you are a man and make it to age 65 you are likely to live another 18.1 years.2 I was 69 when diagnosed with T2C prostate cancer and a year after da Vinci robotic surgery my PSA is undetectable. Of course, there are a number of “detours” on the way to old age. What are the signs of declining life expectancy?

  1. Despair — The overdoses of narcotics epidemic is number one
  2. Suicide by younger men and especially veterans
  3. 38% of men are obese which leads to other related conditions (ie. diabetes)

However, there are some positive reports of declining heart-related deaths and cancer dropped 15 percent over the last few years. Yet one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Seven out of 10 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, colon cancer, bladder cancer, or testicular cancer. Survival rates are higher thanks to better treatment options and increasing awareness.

My call to action

My call to action is “Fear the Beard” and “Manage Your Mustache”! Every year I grow a full beard over the course of the month. The grey that has crept in reminds me of my own mortality but also that we need to thank our veterans who faced and are facing health challenges that pale my own. Always remember that the “V” in Movember stands for our veterans.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. VA Releases Veteran Suicide Statistics by State. US Department of Veteran Affairs. Accessed on November 10, 2019.
  2. 2018 Profile of Older Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed on November 10, 2019.


  • Will Jones moderator
    2 months ago

    Thanks for your service, Bob, and your dedication to promoting men’s health. And congratulations on the non-detectable status. What a relief. I know the feeling!

  • TomC.
    2 months ago

    After my wartime service in Vietnam I returned home and got on with my life. I went back to school on the GI Bill and bought my first home with a Veterans Home Loan. I had a good job and health insurance and felt that overall I was adequately repaid for my service. Then at age 75 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and I’m now in treatment.
    I have good health insurance so I wasn’t concerned about expenses, but a friend said “you know, you’re eligible for Veterans Disability Benefits.” Because of known connections between prostate cancer and agent orange, Vietnam Veterans are automatically considered eligible no matter the time or circumstances.
    I’m now filling out paperwork for the benefits but I have very mixed feelings about it. I’m not “disabled” and I think there are other vets that could use the money more than me. I would rather see it go to getting homeless vets off the street and having their medical issues treated, but that’s not how the system works. People say that if I don’t take the money it will just go to build Trump’s wall.

  • Will Jones moderator
    2 months ago

    Thanks, @tomc. Just my opinion, but I think you’ve earned the right to access every resource available to you. There should be no limit to the resources available to veterans, and none of the resources should be diverted for other purposes. Thanks for your service and good luck with your ongoing treatment.

  • Bob Tierno moderator author
    2 months ago

    @Tom C I am a Veteran but did not go to Vietnam. My co-author for Letters In A Helmet – A Story of Fraternity and Brotherhood, lost his leg in Vietnam and was a long time Prosthetics Director for the VA. While I empathize with your feelings, let me point out to you that Veterans are in my mind a protected class and regardless of being classed by the VA as disabled, Agent Orange has been acknowledged as a major cause of prostate cancer and other cancers to Vietnam Veterans. Accept our Nation’s thanks and accept the benefit. Thank you for your service.

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