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Photo by Cpl. Sarah Cherry

A lot of people cannot comprehend why someone would take his or her own life. In the case of service members, the stress of war, being away from family and friends, traumatic brain injury from combat, and transitioning out of the military, among other things, can be overwhelming to young veterans returning from the combat zone. Indeed, according to data released by the Department of Veterans Affairs earlier this year, male veterans under the age of 30 saw a 44% increase in suicide rates from 2009 to 2011.

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AP Photo/The Tampa Bay Times, Jim Damaske

In 1992, when I was discharged from the Air Force, I had several serious medical issues dating back to my time in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm; issues that forced me to take an early out from the Air Force. I went to the Orlando Veterans Affairs clinic within a few months after I got discharged to get help for my medical problems. From the beginning, it seemed I was hitting a brick wall. The doctor I saw for the chronic diarrhea I was having since 1991 looked me in the eye and said, “It’s all in your head.” Boy, that was laughable. All I could say was, “No, it’s not.” The doctors put me through various tests, but claimed the results only showed irritable bowels.

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Photo by Sgt. Duncan Brennan

Have you given up on ever having a normal life after you experienced a traumatic event? It does not necessarily have to be a war time event. It could be other types of trauma that have contributed to your current state of being, such as rape, battery, tragic deaths of loved ones, car accidents, etc. Whatever horrible event has caused your current state of duress, I am here to tell you that there is hope for you. You just have to be willing to believe and have a desire to do the hard work.

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