SAN ANTONIO -- CJ Larkin was wounded in Iraq and is getting help for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). His dog Andy is truly a comfort for 27-year-old Army veteran. He wishes more military members would seek help at a time when a record number of active duty members are committing suicide.
US military leaders are trying to figure out the causes of what is being considered an epidemic. Last year, 349 vets committed suicide, and that is up from 301 in 2011. The staggering number of deaths in 2012 is higher than the number of soldiers who died in combat in Afghanistan last year.
"It took almost four years before I even started seeing a therapist," said Larkin.
He lost his leg after members of his combat unit drove over an underground explosive device. He now suffers with sleep issues and other problems related to PTSDr.
Experts say without treatment, PTSD could cause debilitating depression.
"I wouldn't say thoughts of killing myself, but I have had thoughts of not wanting to live no more," admitted Larkin.
Larkin says it is tough for a soldier returning from combat to find his place in civilian life. Many turn to alcohol, drugs or even suicide if they feel they can’t cope with the changes in life.
He added the situation is more difficult after losing a friend or friend in combat.
"I'm back here. My best friend is dead. I didn't do my job," explained Larkin. "In reality, you were doing your job. There are just some things you can't change."
Larkin said pride and embarrassment makes it challenging for some veterans to reach out for help.
He found a friend at the San Antonio Coalition for Veterans who has encouraged him. Bobby Erhig serves as president of the organization helping vets. He was burned by the blast of a suicide bomber in Iraq.
Erhig works part time and often without any pay to help wounded warriors who suffer with physical or mental pain.
"The only thing they want is another vet to listen. That's the biggest thing I realized. Someone to recognize that they actually served their country and appreciate that they did it," said Ehrig.
Ehrig provided a list of resources to help veterans suffering from PTSD or depression. He hopes military members find someone or someplace that allow veterans to deal with personal issues and possibly move on with a more productive life.
Here are the resources...