POSTED: Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 9:39pm
UPDATED: Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 9:48pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS —
Friday marks ten years since the war in Afghanistan began and for many soldiers the psychological wounds linger long after they return home .
It's topic that was once taboo in the military but one army major is speaking out about his own mental health struggles in hopes that others will get the help they need.
Army Major Jeff Hall always dreamed of becoming a soldier. His first deployment to Iraq in 2003 was everything he had imagined.
"We were rounding up bad people, we were doing raids, we were helping the population," said Major Jeff Hall, U.S. Army.
Two years into the war things changed. He had seen death before and was prepared for it, but in 2005, he lost two men under his command.
"When he walked in the door, I could tell in his eyes that he was not the same person," said Sheri Hall, Major Hall's wife.
Married 20 years, Major Hall's wife Sheri says she barely recognized her husband when he came home. "One minute he could be happy-go-lucky Jeff, and the next minute his eyes would go completely black and he would just be angry,"said Ms. Hall.
Rage, sadness and despair, Major Hall exposed his post-traumatic stress demons through self-portraits.
"To come across as a broken vessel is death to you in the combat arms. Who wants to follow the officer who's gone crazy," said Major Hall.
Turns out many did and encouraged him when he finally spoke up. Major Hall been heavily involved in a campaign called "real warriors" -- that works to reduce stigma attached to mental illnesses, and finds help for soldiers, anonymously if necessary. "The people who've even been subordinate to me have come forward and said, "Hey sir, I've got you, I've got your back. You're going to be fine. We're not going to let you fail,'" said Maj. Hall.
That attitude has always been clear when they're "over there" but increasingly the senior leadership of the military is reaching out to its troops to tell them, they don't have to suffer alone when they get home.
For more information on PTSD or to get help click here http://www.realwarriors.net/