While we acknowledge Veterans Day on Thursday, let’s also acknowledge that many veterans live every day with a serious challenge.
One Michigan man is working daily to help veterans like him cope.
“I still get panic attacks and I will occasionally have some depression,” said veteran William Krieger.
Krieger lives ever day with PTSD -- post-traumatic stress disorder. He refers to it as just PTS to remove the stigma of disorder from the condition. The veteran served 10 years in the navy and did one combat tour in Iraq. His PTS is still a struggle.
“The PTS never really leaves and for me the severity never really goes away, but it’s managing those symptoms that’s so important,” he said.
So important that it could be the difference between life and death. Before Krieger learned to manage his symptoms, he tried to take his own life.
“I was at the end of my rope in all honesty. I was having panic attacks,” Krieger said. “I didn’t know what was going on. I was snapping at people. I didn’t like myself. It culminated to a point where I was just tired. My kids were in the backyard and my wife was out shopping and it was a beautiful sunny day and I decided I just didn’t want to be here.”
But then his phone rang. A call from a friend that for some reason he chose to answer. That friend asked how he was doing. It was then he knew he needed to get help.
“Through that phone call I went to a counselor, an amazing counselor who I still see on a regular basis, who really helped walk me through what I was feeling,” he said. “If I feel as though a panic attack is coming on or I’m having some symptoms I may breathe in and as I’m breathing in I’ll count to five and then I’ll hold that breath for five, and then I’ll breathe out for a count of five.”
Krieger now works to help other veterans through their post-traumatic stress as well.
“I work for a company that hires a lot of veterans,” he said. “They have created a position called the ‘veterans affairs program manager.’”
Helping others going through what he is has helped in many ways.
“It feels amazing,” said Krieger. “The person I’m talking to a lot of times thinks that they’re the only person who has ever felt the way that they feel.”
That includes his own veteran son.
“That’s the beauty of the two of us being veterans. Not only is he my son but he’s also my friend and when he is struggling, he will call me.”
Krieger had this to say to any veteran who is struggling this Veterans Day or any day:
“Reach out. It’s OK to not be OK and to raise your hand and say I need some help,” he said.
Krieger doesn’t just help veterans on the job. He started a podcast called “Me, You, Us” where he and other veterans talk about how to manage symptoms and more.
To listen, click here.