AUSTIN (KXAN) - Andrew O'Brien returned home in 2010 after a year of military service in Iraq. But coping on the home front wasn't easy, and he even attempted suicide.
Paramedics arrived just in time to save his life.
Now ,O'Brien has written "Welcoming Your Soldier Home," a guide for veterans and their families on how to support those at-risk, and he met with some Wednesday evening.
The Pentagon calls the suicide rate among soldiers and veterans an "epidemic." O'Brien says he is trying to educate and support the family of the returning soldier.
"That support group is always with him," he said of veterans. "I'm not teaching them to understand, I'm teaching them to support. The best way to beat this is to talk about it."
At the present rate, one active soldier and 22 veterans take their lives every day. For veterans that comes out to a suicide every 65 minutes.
Veterans and soldiers make up 1 percent of the U.S. population, but 20 percent of all suicides.
"Even one is too many," O'Brien said. "I was lucky enough to wake up and recognize that I had made a mistake. There are 22 veterans a day who don't get to do that."
Expert psychologists say there are two primary influences on the suicide rate. One is the post traumatic stress factor after combat. The other is domestic problems, financial or marital issues.
A Pentagon study found that of the U.S. military suicides, 55 percent involved a GI who was divorced.
O'Brien hopes to raise enough money to continue public speaking, and to launch a nationwide training program for the families of returning soldiers and veterans.
Find more information on the Defense Suicide Prevention Office, click here .
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