PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - While most of us go about our daily lives today, it's estimated 18 veterans will kill themselves.
Many soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan feel they must hide their deepest wounds to save their careers, but one marine is putting it all out there in the hope of helping himself and others.
Jason Haag started a blog called USMCrazy and it's raw and it's real.
10 On Your Side's Stephanie Harris sat down with him to talk about post traumatic stress and how to stop it.
A Marine never wears his heart on his sleeve, but when Jason Haag rips off his shirt, the emotions are undeniable. His entire back is tattooed with scenes of soldiers praying at Arlington National Cemetery, a crying wife and other symbols of marines who've made the ultimate sacrifice.
You'll see a picture of it on his blog, where he exposes the truth about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
"I was always the first one at the party the loudest one at the party always wanted to go out be around and now I , I don't leave my basement," Haag told WAVY.com.
He blogs about the anxiety that keeps him from even going to his children's football games, and the time he felt cornered at a restaurant and ran to the car for his gun.
"I will be honest , I've carried a weapon most of the time until now, when they took it away from me, my dad took my pistol," he said.
Haag's unit fought in the some of the fiercest battles of the Iraq war. The day we watched the fall of Baghdad, he got shot.
He blogs about it, and the two IED explosions that caused traumatic brain injury and left him deaf in one ear.\ But it's the scars you can't see that keep him up for days on end.
He wrote about it in a poem which reads in part, "He is killed not once but a thousand times, you are gone but seen every night."
The nightmares nearly destroyed his family, until he got a wake up call
"My wife punching me damn near in the face telling me 'it's either me or the marine corps'."
It took eight years, and when he finally went for help, the Veterans clinic told him 'come back next week'. Unacceptable, says Senator Mark Warner.
"The sooner we get these veterans into treatment the fewer suicides and broken lives we'll have to explain," Warner told WAVY.com.
The senate committee on Veterans' Affairs held a hearing last month, after an inspector general's report showed VA facilities were not providing care as quickly as they said. The department claimed that 95 percent of first time patients received an evaluation within 14 days. In reality, fewer than half were seen in that time.
In response, Veterans' Hospitals are making changes. They are hiring 1,600 new mental health professionals. Our region, the Va. Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network, will receive 77 of those workers and are studying the use of transcendental meditation on returning troops.
Experts are debating whether to change the name. Swapping the word disorder for injury, some feel will reduce the stigma. All proof Warner says they are moving forward.
"But they have to move quicker as well and those of us in public office need to keep the pressure on," Warner said.
Pressure to provide quick treatment to veterans who seek it. Haag believes that would help, but insists there's only one way to beat the stigma.
"There needs to be a Colonel or a General somebody that comes out and says 'I have PTSD,' that's what it's gong to take," he told WAVY.com.
Had that mentor existed, Haag might have sought help sooner and saved his career.
"Maybe, just maybe, I could have done it right the next time" his blog reads.
Instead, he is leaving the Marines, but still doesn't know when he'll be able to leave his basement.
"I'm waiting... just wait and see what's going to happen."
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