After returning from Afghanistan, a Tennessee man who loved to cut down trees and work on trucks lost his zest for life. Michael Lovely committed suicide in October and his mother vowed to help other troubled young people from meeting the same fate, etruth.com reports.
Lovely dreamed about serving in the military, his mother, Sherrie, told the Goshen News, but after completing a half-tour as a private first class in Afghanistan, he struggled to reintegrate into society. When Lovely took his life, Sherrie -- a single mom who worked three jobs to put her kids through school -- got a "significant sum" of money from the military. She decided to donate $25,000 to Goshen Crossing, the alternative school she credits with helping her son get on the right track, the news outlet reported.
"It taught him to give back to the community," Sherrie told the Goshen News. "It taught him to put forth an effort in his studies, and he flourished as a student. He had a lot of friends, and it helped him to understand what life was about."
The money Sherrie donated will help fund scholarships for students who are "upset about life," and are struggling in the public school system, but can't afford private school tuition, Goshen Crossing Executive Director Rob Staley told etruth.com.
Lovely's untimely death is hardly the anomaly.
According to a study released by the Center for a New American Security in November, a veteran commits suicide every 80 minutes and the number of military suicides have increased since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In the fiscal year 2009 alone, 1,868 veterans of these wars have made suicide attempts, according to armytimes.com.
"America is losing its battle against suicide by veterans and service members," authors of the CNAS study concluded. "And as more troops return from deployment, the risk will only grow."
But the military has taken steps to win this battle against suicide. It invested $5 million in the Vets4Warriors peer-to-peer counseling program, which is open to all members and veterans of the National Guard and military reserves, according to the Associated Press. A 24-hour-a-day help line, staffed by nearly 40 specially trained veterans, recently went national, too.
When it comes to helping veterans who are struggling with the haunting memories of war, moms like Sherrie Lovely agree that getting them to open up and talk about their experiences is the biggest obstacle, and the most critical one to overcome.
"They survive going to war, they survive the family life, but they don't survive coming back," Sherrie told etruth.com. "They don't open up. They don't tell you what they've seen. It's so bad, I don't think they know how to describe it."