Chase C. Penman
Iraq Combat Veteran
1st Cavalry Division

Saving Veteran lives is a topic that I hold very close to my heart. Aside from some memories in Iraq, it is the one topic that has enough power to keep me awake at night. I believe the system has failed our service members and Veterans. Current service members who need help cannot outsource as Tricare will not cover proper assistance and the VA is limited in resources. There is generally only one VA center in the major cities which makes it difficult for most people to go to. They have created support groups and meetings but most are also held during regular business hours which only benefit a few. I believe this is part of the problem why Veterans ultimately do not receive the help they seek until the mental problem becomes so strong that they take their own life.

I myself have suffered from these very same issues. The first couple years back from the war, I drank, did drugs, and fought almost on a weekly basis. Like most Veterans, I was trying to numb the pain. However, it did not numb my feelings, stop the nightmares, and it did not remove the loneliness. It only put a road block on my ability to deal with the issues.

My issues were not acknowledged until my parents brought them to my attention after sabotaging my life. It was then that I started going to groups for my problems and where I learned the tools to face my shortcomings and connect with other Veterans who shared similar stories. Thoughts of suicide have burdened my life for years as I have spent a lot of time in the deepest and darkest pits of my mind. I have even tried to kill myself. But by the grace of God and the people who have been inserted into my life, I can say that I am a success. Not in a worldly possession or financial way, but because I am here to share my story and hopefully save others.

In closing, I would like to say that I will share my full story to anyone who wants to know and I will gladly listen to yours if you need a friend. I also want to thank my wife, my parents, my sister, and all of the other family and friends who lent me a hand or an ear when I needed it most. When I was out of places to turn, I also had my best friend in the entire world, Hudson (pictured on the right). I recommend that all Vets adopt a fury best friend as he truly changed my life!