The struggles of dealing with PTSD are very real and 22 veterans commit suicide every day to this demon. This story is dedicated to SSG Jason Jackson from C co 1-22 Infantry and all soldiers past, present and future that are dealing or will deal with PTSD.
We deployed to Iraq February 2003 and again December 2005. During those two deployments many of us witnessed our friends get killed in the line of duty and a few of us have had to engage with the enemy, shoot to kill. Both very horrifying events that have left us in a dark place upon our return home. Many others continued to deploy year after year after year. As the military term goes, “Suck it up and drive on”. We had no time to think about what has happened during our deployments. A short period of time after each event we grieved and then picked up where we left off to continue our mission. Our families noticed changes with us but we never wanted to accept this. We are warriors, warriors are not weak, remain strong and continue our mission. Train new soldiers as they come in to standard and get ready to deploy again. That’s the life of a soldier. It’s hard enough to be a soldier and especially the family of one.
Personally, I could not handle another deployment. February 2007 I started my ETS process. For those that don’t know what that is, it’s the process of getting out of the military. By April 2007 I began my terminal leave which gave me until June 2007. This was a move I had to make. My daughter born July 2003 during my first deployment and my son April 2005 just before I left. If I wanted to keep my family together this is what I needed to do. At that time I searched everywhere for a decent job with nothing offered remotely equaled to what I was making on active duty. Talking about stress! My family consisted of my two kids, wife and her two girls from a previous marriage. Found a job at Target as a manager making $15 an Hr. No joke! Besides that, my wife at the time and I were having marital problems residual from both my deployments. Needless to say she couldn’t keep her legs closed and know a number of other soldiers that went through this same situation. We have enough to think about during a deployment to have to worry about a cheating wife back home. Really!
Well, we divorced and she took the kids with her to Virginia. Even though I didn’t agree with it, at the same time I knew it had to be done since Florida would’ve been rough for her and the kids to survive. At this point I’m alone, got fired from my job at target and was making a few bucks here and there to send to my kids. My ex barely allowed me to speak with my kids when I called. Allot of times I would call and she would pick up and hang up the phone. Other times she’ll argue with me because of her own mistakes. No job, kids out of state, divorced, PTSD and can’t find a damn job. Luckily I had joined the Army Reserves and was able to make a few hundred every month which is what I mostly sent my kids at the time. Now I’m living with my mom which only lasted 3 months because I’ve been so used to being on my own that I couldn’t deal with it anymore. The little bit of money I had I put down towards a studio apartment in Homestead, Florida. Not much but it was mine. This forced me to get my act in gear and find a job to pay my rent, lights and child support.
Six months pass by and still no job. My rent is due, lights are about to get shut off and everything from both deployments are really getting to me at this point. Very stressful. I lived next to Homestead Airforce Base and just about every other night they would light up the ranges. Explosions and Small Arms Fire you could hear from my apartment. Sometimes it would be late at night while I was asleep and other nights it would be early on in the evening. From time to time I would have nightmares before but now, yea, it was real bad. I started to give up hope and give up on life at this point. The pain was just too much to bear so I popped every pill the VA had given me for my pain and PTSD in hopes to end my life. I also had some other narcotics that my mom had given me to cope with my back pain and knee pains. Luckily it was only a few. My girlfriend at the time kept calling my phone and no answer. It was around 7pm when I overdosed myself with my meds. At 2am my ex-girlfriend walks into my apartment desperately to find me laying on my bed drugged up. I was REAL lucky. All I got was a terrible HIGH from hell. She really wanted to call the ambulance and get me to the VA but I begged her not to. Not even my mother knew what I did. I didn’t want anyone to know really, until now. Only a few knew and out of trust I told those few people. My fear was that my chain of command would find out and have me go through dumb classes and forced to go through therapy and blah blah. That’s the last thing I needed.
I truly believe that an angel came and touched me. There’s no way anyone could have gone through that without their stomach pumped out or even surviving at that. The pain was gone and for a long time I became very determined to achieve goals and not let life’s stress get in my way of what I wanted. Lost weight by working out and running every other night. A total of 40 lbs to be exact. Feeling better than ever I finally found a job as a military technician for the Army Reserves. Things at this point began to take place as they should have. Along with that my ex-wife decided she couldn’t deal with my kids anymore and gave me custody of them. Now my drive to succeed and push forward were all due to my kids. I had to be strong and do right by them. GOD needed me to be here for my kids and asked me to not be selfish. When we decide to want to take our own lives, it’s not just going to affect us but everyone around us. You’d be surprised who can be affected. Not only your immediate family but also friends and those whom you have served with. Those that have come close to you along the years. That’s who get hurt the most. Once you’re gone you’re pain depletes itself but not what you leave behind. Talk to someone, call a friend, family but someone. Find a hobby to keep you busy. Run, ride your bike, motorcycle riding, walk, sing, write, build things, work on cars, and the list goes on. Just do something and watching T.V or Facebook is not one of them.
We have a network of people that are there for each other on Facebook which can be found at this link, https://www.facebook.com/My-Brother-My-Battle-348569735481031/
Post your story, reach out to someone and get the resources you need to get help. You are not weak for asking for help. Don’t be too proud to ask for help or embarrassed to say you need help. We’ve all been through it as you can see with my story. Help us help you!
In closing, Please help us help the family of SSG Jason Jackson by visiting https://www.gofundme.com/2ttww9gk
Until we meet again,
Ballz Deep, Deeds Not Words!
#youarenevertooheavyIwillcarryyou #nevertooheavy #22aday