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Veterans can struggle with the mental impact of their service long after they come home

Isak Dinesen
WAOW Television

As veterans' mental health continues to be a key issue, people in Pittsville learned how to be an advocate on their behalf Wednesday.

Those in need of help could be yourself or a neighbor, and knowing how to engage in helpful behaviors is important since help may otherwise be a great distance away.

"Together, we can accomplish in lowering the number of not just veterans, but anyone in the community from taking their own life," said Chris Pettis, the executive director of the Highground Veterans Memorial Park in Neillsville, who helped set up Wednesday's event.

In the case of Donald Marine, a Navy veteran who lost his life to suicide in 2016 after serving five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, his mother Linda Brey says he had tried reaching for help, but the mental weights he had carried were too large to overcome.

"That's what we really want to promote, is making more connections, and finding the tools that will help them for their internal struggles," Brey said.

The best way you can be an advocate is by simply making connections with those who have served, and developing enough trust with them to be able to talk directly about suicide with them or if they need help of any kind.

"If you and I were friends, I would know if you were having a bad day and I would at least hope I'd want to make your day better and give you a sense of hope, a sense of purpose. The more people we have doing that, the better off I think everybody's going to be," Pettis said.

It's that act of being present and intentional with your words that could possibly save a life, as nobody should go through those feelings by themselves.

"We found out we weren't alone, and that's what you want to know, that you're not alone," Brey said.

That statement applies to veterans and non-veterans. If you or someone you know needs help, you can call or text the National Suicide Hotline at 988, where you can receive support at any time of day.

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