Tulsa VFW Fighting Record High Suicide Rates Among Oklahoma Veterans
TULSA, Oklahoma - Staff Sergeant Myles Hunt carries memories of his almost ten years in the U.S. Army with him everywhere he goes but some memories are just more physical than others.
"I was hit by an IED, September 5th, 2003. It took about a quarter of my face and half of my hand. We were on a road, what they were starting to call IED alley. We didn't see it coming. It was literally fixed behind a guardrail." Said Sgt. Hunt. He and the soldiers with him survived but Staff Sergeant Hunt came home a different man.
"Dealing with the recovery, dealing with the incident itself. I grew up in the hills and I went back there and I went home, I had a hard time getting jobs, had a hard time holding jobs."
He started going to the VA and says the help he received allowed him to slowly get used to his new "normal" alongside men and women going through the same things.
"I started talking with those guys and gaining the comradery back that I was truly missing." Said Sgt. Hunt. Now, Hunt volunteers at Tulsa's VFW Post 577 alongside Commander Josh Starks whose father, an aviation mechanic in the US Army committed suicide just 2 days before his son's deployment to Afghanistan.
The Post is dedicated to helping veterans cope with the PTSD and depression they face coming home from the war.
"Oklahoma is a very high infantry state,” said Starks. "The experiences that you have are sometimes more intense whenever you are in the infantry."
According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, Oklahoma veterans commit suicide at rates much higher than the national average. It's an epidemic Commander Starks says the Post is fighting by giving soldiers a community, and the tools they need to cope with their experiences.
"It doesn't get better without help, it doesn't get better without somebody reaching out and saying hey I'm here for you."
For more information, you can visit VFW.org