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Coping with PTSD

Reported by: Mark Spain
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Updated: 5/20/2013 9:33 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla -- David Daugherty spent more than 20 years in the military.
He survived Iraq and Afghanistan as an Army Special Forces medic.
His job was to treat other people's wounds.

“There were mass casualties," Daugherty says.  "There were lots of blisters, and you can win a lot of hearts and minds taking care of people's blisters.”

But when Daugherty needed mending, he says he turned to something destructive.

“Every time I went to Afghanistan or Iraq I lost that sense of who I was a little bit more, and when I came home each time the drinking got worse," says Daugherty.

He says there were drugs too.
Doctors diagnosed him with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, better known as PTSD.

“Drinking got worse and worse, and when I finally came to realize that i was in a really bad place I was in a VA treatment center and it was, well, even they couldn't help me,” Daugherty says.
    
There was no help for this married father of two.
So in 2006, he decided to throw most of his life away.

“I came home from my last deployment.  I was home for about two weeks," he says.  "I bought a motorcycle and I left.  I just left my family."

Not long after, he nearly ended it all.

Daugherty says, “It was like standing on the edge of a cliff looking out over an abyss that I could get lost in for a really long time.”

But Daugherty is a survivor.
Sadly, not all military members suffering with PTSD are as fortunate.
According to a VA study, an estimated 22 veterans commit suicide in the U.S. each day.
The report claims it's in part because of PTSD and veterans not getting the help they need.
When Daugherty thought about suicide, he says two little faces kept creeping into his thoughts.

“My kids. yeah.  I couldn't leave my kids," he says.

Today, he is rebuilding his relationship with his son and daughter, and he's repairing his life.
Daugherty is working on a mental health degree and getting chaplain training so he can help others dealing with the same invisible wounds he struggled with.
He's been sober now for more than three years.
    
“It does seem to get better.  It's not easy per se," Daugherty says.  "And part of what I had to do to continue progressing was let go of this idea expecting other people to understand, or even expecting people to care.  You know, to thine own self be true."
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