Valley parents calling on Congress to address PTSDPosted: Updated:
Daniel Somers was 30 years old when he took his own life in June.
The Iraq War veteran spent five years with the Army National Guard and when he returned home his parents, Jean and Howard, noticed he was a different person.
"He didn't want to bother us, he didn't want to trouble us," his mother, Jean Somers said. "He did not want us to really know what he experienced."
Before committing suicide, Daniel left a note for his family:
"I am sorry that it has come to this. The fact is, for as long as I can remember, my motivation for getting up every day has been so that you would not have to bury me. As things have continued to get worse, it has become clear that this alone is not a sufficient reason to carry on.
"The fact is, I am not getting better, I am not going to get better, and I will most certainly deteriorate further as time goes on. From a logical standpoint, it is better to simply end things quickly and let any repercussions from that play out in the short term than to drag things out into the long term."
Daniel was found to have Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
"It is a term that anyone who's been reading anything since at least the First Gulf War should be aware of," his father, Howard Somers said.
More than a half a million Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans have PTSD, but there are few places for treatment. Like thousands of other veterans, Daniel couldn't get his claims for relief processed by the Veterans Administration.
"It's just a system that's broken, and people know it's broken and for whatever reason it's not getting fixed," says Howard.
Howard and Jean Somers hosted a benefit in Scottsdale on Saturday night. The benefit served to bring more attention to the issue and gain traction with leaders in Congress and bring PTSD to the forefront in Veterans Affairs.
"These guys need to know that there are other guys that went through what they did, they came out through it and they healed," Jean Somers said.
Daniel did not heal. Now her family and community hope his death can provoke change in Washington, DC, and an outlet for all veterans with PTSD and similar traumatic disorders.
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