CUMBERLAND — Recently I watched Mel Gibson’s moving, inspirational film “Hacksaw Ridge.” Rent it if you haven’t seen it. During a time when our senses and sense of civility are assaulted continuously by the cowardly acts of so-called “leaders,” it is necessary for us all to recall who we are – and what we are all truly capable of.

The film is based on the life and actions of Cpl. Desmond Doss, an infantry combat medic during World War II. He became the nation’s first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor for actions above and beyond the call of duty.

Doss believed he had one mission: To save lives, not take them. During a single battle on Okinawa in 1945, he rescued 75 infantrymen without ever holding a rifle. Dozens of these fortunate men were saved after Doss’ platoon had retreated during an onslaught of enemy fire. He was wounded not once but twice during this attack, yet continued to care for those more severely wounded than himself.

Fast forward to the present. Did you know that in 2016, over 55,000 Americans lost their lives due to drug overdose – exceeding the 54,000 soldiers killed during the three-year-long Korean War? Or that it took 13 years of combat in Vietnam to exceed this number?

Please let that sink in.

Here are but a few of the equally jarring statistics shared in “Lost,” the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram’s 10-day series on addiction in Maine:

 Nationally, 14,647 more people died of drug overdose in 2015 than in car crashes (52,404 vs. 37,757).

 Between 25,000 and 30,000 people in Maine are struggling with addiction but cannot access treatment.

 In 2015, there were 272 deaths in Maine due to overdose – a 26 percent increase over the previous year.

 In 2016, there were 378 deaths in Maine by overdose – a 39 percent increase over the previous year. More than a death a day. Every day. All year.

Today, we are under siege – not from battalions of armed men in uniform, but by lethal chemicals. Throughout the Press Herald series, the AIDS epidemic of our generation – opioid addiction – is vividly captured in images of those who have recently succumbed to this scourge across our state. Each photo in the tragic mosaic on Page 1A last Sunday vividly communicates that addiction chooses us, never the reverse. To end this scourge we must draw on our deepest convictions to heal – and fervently support those who take up the call to serve.

During a time when life-or-death battles are being waged in every town and every village and affect so many families throughout this nation, we must take time to recognize those who have the moral conviction and courage to fight for us all.

I am referring to the overworked, underpaid, selfless heroes dedicating their lives each day to saving wounded victims of substance abuse. Drug treatment counselors, therapists, social workers, nurses, clergy, family and friends – the white flag of surrender would have flown high above our rooftops already were it not for their valiant efforts and unwavering commitment.

There are thousands of unsung “combat medics” all around us – we just need to be aware of our friends, neighbors and colleagues running continuously back into the fray. What you may not realize is that many of these compassionate healers are wounded themselves by the chemical and emotional “shrapnel” still inextricably lodged within their systems.

As with Desmond Doss, their calling and commitment to heal cause them to focus on the needs of others first. Through the act of providing comfort and medical attention (often without the funds or resources required), they may even heal themselves.

So the next time you meet someone participating courageously in this silent fight for the future of our families, take a moment to recognize their contribution. Without warning (for most of us, it starts with an unforgettable phone call), you, too, may be drafted.

If so, you will need guidance from the veterans who have fought on the front lines before you. Know that victory over this unchosen enemy, addiction, can never be achieved without these caring men and women by your side. Each gives us hope and the tools needed to win. And win we must – for the future of our society.