Local war veteran raises awareness during suicide prevention month


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)-September is suicide prevention month and Fort Gordon is raising awareness about the signs and symptoms of veterans living with Post traumatic stress disorder.

Hidden Wounds is a group working with retired service men and women who suffer with post traumatic stress disorder. They recently held a presentation at Fort Gordon to discuss the stigma around suicide and mental health. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, 22 veterans die by suicide per day.

Steven Diaz, founder of Hidden Wounds is also a survivor of war trauma and shared his experience in an effort to address the alarming statistics.

“At the time the military didn’t train me on how to deal with PTSD, It trained me how to do everything else and I was excellent at it just like a lot of other military members.  We’re excellent at our jobs but mental health was just something that was not taught to us. It almost seems that when we come home it’s a switch that you just turn off and you’re supposed to be ok,” Diaz says.

Hidden Wounds works to provide resources for service members and their family members such as counseling and inpatient care.

Diaz says he receives calls from family members thanking him for bringing to light a very dark situation and he hopes it encourages others to know they’re not alone.

“We talk about what a soldier, service member, or family member can do if they see the signs of post traumatic stress which can ultimately lead to suicide. Not every service member that’s in the military is going to become suicidal, a lot of veterans do really well reintegrating into society and civilian life, but many don’t,” Diaz told NewsChannel 6.

If you know of someone who may be suffering from PTSD or has expressed suicidal thoughts the Veterans crisis line is available at 1-800-273-8255. You can also visit hiddenwounds.org

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