Posted at: 03/11/2013 11:36 PM
| Updated at: 03/12/2013 9:15 AM
By: Jessica Layton
TROY - They put their lives on the line for our country, and as members of the military return from combat - they're finding they're increasingly at war with themselves.
The suicide rate within the military is rising at an alarming pace.
So the mission at a town hall forum at HVCC was the message of hope and help for service members and their families.
Major General Mark Graham spent 35 years in the US Army. Now six months into retirement - keeping the memory of his two sons alive is arguably his most important mission
They died fighting two very different battles. Jeff was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Kevin took his own life.
“We didn't know how serious it was - I frankly didn't know you could die by being too sad,” he says.
As they travel the country sharing their family's story, Graham and his wife don't like to dwell on statistics. But the numbers can't be ignored.
Since 2001, the suicide rate among active members of the army has been steadily on the rise.
With a record number 349 military service members taking their own lives last year.
That's part of the reason the local chapter of a group aimed at preventing suicide held this military town hall forum:
“These are people that put their lives on the line, they go, leave work and families, they come back and they're lost. We've got to do a better job,” says Lisa Riley, of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“The experience overseas in a combat zone - very traumatic,” says Congressman Chris Gibson, who served four tours of duty himself.
As more troops come home from war, there's the potential for even more strain on organizations that help veterans.
“This is what's going on now in the military - dealing with reality that despite our best efforts, we're not doing enough,” says Gibson.
Major General Graham is doing all he can. Reminding everyone he meets - there's a personal story behind each and every life lost.
“The invisible wounds just as serious and deadly as physical wounds…We don't want anyone to feel like they're alone ever,” he says.
You can always call The US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help at 1-800-273-8255, or go to The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention’s website.