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#2 Veterans Day 2018

Updated: Nov 14, 2018

Guest Contributor

Jerodd L. Edwards-Burton

Veteran of the United States Army

Time in Service: 7.5 years

Since becoming a (legal) adult, at the age of 18, my life has been dedicated to public service. I spent the better part of a decade in the United States Army, from Missouri to Korea, and finally Fort Bragg. I’ve trained soldiers from the brand new Private to my replacement in the CBRN Room as the incoming NCO. However, my time in the military wasn’t all flowers and rainbows.

I struggled with depression at 18, which only got worse. At the age of 19, I made my first suicide attempt, because my depression was so bad. I didn’t understand why, or even what was going on. I was placed on watch, putting my roommate in an uneasy position, but he helped me out. Prior to going to Korea, I made my second attempt at suicide, and pushed my orders back from February to June, until I was properly cleared by the Psychiatrist. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder. I was able to hide my “weakness” of mental health for the next year in a half, until I redeployed stateside to Fort Bragg, and once again, became a victim of my own thinking.

Family and Friends

My transition out of the military was hard, but the only consolation I had was my wife. She helped me transition out, knowing it would be extra stress with less finances, because I was getting retired. One of the hardest challenges of getting out of the military was finding a job where my love for public service and helping people would converge. That’s when I found one of my greatest coping mechanisms, which, incidentally, was being in the service of other people. After sitting down with my VA Psychiatrist and outlining a plan, I knew that the only way I could get over my Major Depressive Disorder (aside from medication) was to continue to be in the service of others, and healthcare wasn’t the route I planned to take, but it was indeed the route that took me.

I graduated from EMT school, and started working for Cumberland County EMS and Johnston Ambulance Service and EMS. I was able to cope with, and even deal with the issues of Social Anxiety and Depression, but I still had to deal with the issues of PTSD, which was an underlying issue I never knew I had. I never knew I had PTSD…until I had a patient die in my arms. The support from this ordeal came from my wife, being able to express to her what was going on at that time, and how my mind still played out the events of holding that patient in my arms.

As a Veteran, it is extremely important for our families to offer support, especially in dealing with issues of mental health. As a Veteran, it is so important to have our families understand that some of the issues we face aren’t always evident. Some of the things we go through or have gone through are not always things we can talk about.