March 6, 2009 – The military describes the latest suicide figures as “very disturbing.”
Authorities report 18 solider suicides last month and 24 in January.
The suicide rate is now higher than the civilian rate for the first time on record.
With more and more soldiers being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, there are mental health programs in North Texas reaching out to veterans and their families.
“Nobody knew what to expect until we got there,” said Iraq Veteran Charles Goolsby.
He was deployed to Iraq in 2003. When he got back, his struggles intensified.
“I was angry and drinking a lot,” said Goolsby “I felt alone.”
It took him three years to get help. He turned to Operation Healthy Reunions.
The program is part of Mental Health America of Greater Dallas and supports troops and their families. They provide free screenings to people who make less than $100,000 a year.
“Even if the soldiers are still over there the families over here are experiencing some of the problems of dealing with families alone with the military personal gone,” said Greg Zarbo, Program Director for Mental Health America of Greater Dallas.
Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder include anxiety, anger and sleep problems according to therapist.
“I guess it was three months into the deployment when some things changed,” said Grace Miller.
When she heard about the program, she knew it was what she needed to cope.
Miller’s husband was deployed to Iraq last year. He’s back safe, but she said their constant worry now is their marriage.
“It’s very hard to reacquaint ourselves with one another and try to get back what we had,” said Miller.
“I don’t regret anything,” says Goolsby. He is working through his anger. He said the program has really helped him.
He also said if he were asked to go back to Iraq he would, but he know realizes the challenges that come with deployment.
Operation Healthy Reunions of the Mental Health America of Greater Dallas is located on 624 N. Good Latimer, Suite 200 in Dallas. Their number is 214-871-2420 ext. 117 or 110. They can also be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.