I encourage sharing my testimony with as many media outlets as humanly possible, because the word has to get out that the Men and Women who have or are protecting our way of life are truly hurting and need help now NOT tomorrow, because for 22 veterans it will be too late.
This testimony is for my twenty two veteran brothers and sisters who have decided to end their life by committing suicide today. I wish there was some magical gift of love, I could send your way to make you change your mind but all I can do is share my own very personal story in hopes it just might make a positive difference. I too was once in your shoes. The year was 1996 and I was in the middle of a very bitter and ugly divorce. My life was totally turned upside down. My career in the Air Force was in jeopardy, because I could not focus on anything but the negatives in my life. It seemed as if I was losing everything important to me to include my two young children. I knew in the state of Illinois the chances of me gaining custody of them was slim at best. I was also aware that I was on the short list of being tagged with a 3 year overseas assignment which would result in me hardly ever getting to see my kids. At the time, I would have rather been dead than to face a life without them in it. These thoughts and fears consumed me every day and night. I could not envision a life without my children, so after a very long battle with severe depression, which by the way I tried very hard to hide from everyone in fear it would further destroy my military career, I made the decision to end my life. I thought, I had everything planned to the finest detail. I would wait until my children departed for school and then proceed to the guest bedroom located in our basement, insert a shot gun shell into my gun chamber, pull the trigger and escape all the madness.
I knew my Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) would call my house once I did not report for duty and would eventually drive to my house to check on me. Once he arrived at my residence, he would find my front door wide open and hear the very loud music I had playing in an attempt to drown out the gun shot. I was certain he would (NOT my children) find my lifeless body lying in a pool of blood with my face blown off. Everything was going as planned on that fateful day, I kissed my children goodbye for what I thought would be the last time. Tears ran uncontrollably down my face which did not overly concern my kids, because they were growing cold to all the drama and turmoil a divorce inflicts on a family. I remember watching them both walk down the street until they eventually disappeared from sight. The feelings I was experiencing at that exact moment was immense shame, guilt, hurt, and a haunting loneliness. I remember walking away from the front door and heading downstairs in a complete haze. I cranked the volume up on my Kenwood system and then entered the guest bedroom. I remember loading my shotgun chamber and inserting the barrel into my mouth. I began shaking uncontrollably and just when I was about to pull the trigger I heard a very loud voice shouting “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?” I looked up and saw my neighbor running frantically in my direction. I dropped my shotgun at that exact moment and began to cry as my neighbor wrapped his arms around my trembling body. I had never been so ashamed and embarrassed in my life. I really cannot explain what happened to my thought process during that ordeal but I realized I wanted to live and not die. I called my NCOIC and told him I needed help, so he immediately made arrangements with the base hospital that same day for me to get some much needed professional help.
I am not going to lie to you and say it was an easy recovery, because it was not. It was instead a very long and at times painful process, but once I was able to regain my self confidence and dignity there was no mountain high enough to stop my conquest to succeed in life. Thankfully once recovered, no matter how hard times became in my life, I never experienced that gloom, doom and fearful feeling again. Over the course of the past twenty years, I have achieved a level of success both personally and professionally that at one time in my life I only dreamed of. I eventually found love again and have four healthy loving children and to date have been blessed with three wonderful grandchildren. I am a retired Air Force Veteran, Author, Cross Domain Solutions Analyst, and Speaker who tries his absolute best to help others.
Reflecting back, if my neighbor did not walk in on me at that exact moment in my life, I would have been remembered as a troubled Air Force airman who left behind two innocent children by committing suicide. I would have missed out on so many wonderful moments in my life. Please believe me when I say there is not a day that goes by that I do not thank the LORD for sparing my life on that dreaded day back in 1996. I am asking you now my beloved Brother and Sister, to reconsider your decision to end your life and instead join me with helping others like us who so desperately need a fresh start in life.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or violent personal assaults like rape.
People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged, and these symptoms can be severe enough and last long enough to significantly impair the person’s daily life.
If you or a loved one are in emotional distress, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). We are here to help 24/7. You are not alone. Help is available. Veterans should press option 1.
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