Livonia veteran fights to prevent suicide among men and women returning from combat

Senior honored for work

LIVONIA, Mich. – Chances are likely that there is someone in your neighborhood, church or school who fought for our country's freedom and is having a tough time readjusting to everyday life.

That is why one Livonia man, who understands this better than anyone, is on a mission.

"So I will be 72 in June, and I owe everything after the 12th of May, 1969 to God. Every day has been a blessing," said veteran Ernie Whaley. 

Whaley doesn't take any day for granted. This Vietnam veteran knows firsthand how hard life can be for our brave men and women when they come back home from serving overseas.

"I know when I came back from Vietnam, it wasn't real popular to be a Vietnam veteran. You haven't earned the right to talk to me about it," Whaley said. 

The harsh reality is that many of our veterans take their own lives, after dealing with trauma from their time in the service.

That's where he steps in -- he's saving lives by simply taking an interest.

"You don't have to be shy about it. Look them in the eye, smile when you sit down and say, 'Thank you for your service, welcome home.' I'm sure I have diverted several guys from committing suicide. Because you can tell several times by talking to them how stressed they are," he said. 

Recently, Whaley was honored as a super senior by Visiting Angels. 

He even got Captain America's shield as a trophy. But for this 71-year-old, it's not about the awards. It's about helping others and saving lives.

"It means I'm here for a purpose. It means my work is not yet done," said Whaley. 

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