Fort Rucker - 232 boots lined the pavement as Fort Rucker soldiers ran by. Each representing a soldier lost to suicide since last October.
“Me personally, I’ve been there. If it weren’t for my wife and my kids I know I would’ve given up,” said Clay Rogers, Graceville.
Rogers served in the Army for ten years. In that time he served in the Middle East 4 times. When he wasn’t overseas, he was preparing to be.
Although he came back with few physical injuries, he still wasn’t whole.
“Everybody that goes over there comes back a different person. You are not the same person when you come back home,” said Rogers.
He recognized he had the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, or PTSD.
“It started with nightmares with me. I wasn’t sleeping,” said Rogers.
It escalated to anger management issues and distancing himself from friends and family. Eventually he considered suicide.
He’s not the only one. July marked a record-high of Army suicides in one month. Leaders are taking action with a service-wide stand down.
“We’re stopping. We’re pausing. Raise awareness with our soldiers about what those resources are and how to get help,” said Major General Kevin Mangum, Fort Rucker’s Commanding General.
Many think there is only a risk in young, combat-weary soldiers, but army leaders say that is not the case. It can happen to anyone.
Fort Rucker leaders say it going to take everyone on post playing an active role in order to keep the number from growing.
“It’s not a sign of weakness and there’s no stigma in getting help because those are injuries as well. We take care of physical injuries. We need to readily take care of psychological injuries as well,” said Mangum.
Rogers said, “Don’t hesitate. Seek the help. You’re going to need it.”
If given the chance to serve again, Rogers said he would take it.