On Nov. 11, we’ll be celebrating the brave men and women who have served in the military. Throughout the next few weeks, 8 News Now will be bringing you the stories of veterans in Veterans Voices.
Many have sacrificed their lives, while others are dealing with mental health problems. On average, 20 veterans commit suicide every day.
8 News Now spoke to a war veteran about the struggles of living with PTSD.
Thomas Clark’s dog may be small but he has had a big impact on his life.
“If I get in a nightmare, he wakes me up. He jumps on me and he licks on me and he does it all until I get up, I wake up. If I get upset, he’s in my lap and he’s loving on me,” Clark said.
His four-legged companion is just one way Clark copes with PTSD after serving 16 years in the navy. The war veteran also loves to BBQ.
“Got some ribs going for tonight.”
It took him years to find an outlet that would get his mind off the pain due to a back injury and the mental trauma. It also took years for him to open up about it.
“I had a noose hanging in my garage and many times I, I was there. I was to the point that I was going to do it,” he said.
Talking about some of his darkest thoughts was the beginning of his healing journey.
“I’d like to say I got over it. I’m getting over it. It’s something that’s totally in my mind a lot and it’s getting a whole lot better, a whole lot better but when it got better was when I brought it out to people that I love.”
He says the most difficult part was reaching out for help.
“It’s really important for the veterans to realize they’ve got to open up. They’ve got to tell people cause these people that you think you’re a burden to them, they’re the ones that’s gonna miss you the most.”
Since getting help from his loved ones and the VA, Clark has burned the noose that was once hanging in his garage and is getting better one day at a time.
The VA has made some improvements to their mental health services nationwide. For instance, when a veteran calls their doctor, they first hear from an operator asking if they are having suicidal thoughts and where to get help.