ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- There are many faces of the American soldier. Some are of bravery and sacrifice, but for those that survive to tell the tale, there are internal wounds from the battlegrounds that come as another fight to win.
“We have 22 veterans committing suicide every day and it`s becoming kind of an epidemic. It`s a pretty serious problem that people are kind of much brushing under the table,” said Marine Corps Veteran George Wilczak.
Best-selling author, motivational speaker and marine veteran Chad Robichaux has been traveling coast to coast spreading the message of hope and survival. His work has been inspired by veterans and active duty service members that have come to the dark crossroads of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, something he says almost caused him to take his own life.
“I decided my family might be sad if I was gone but they would be better off so I decided to take my life. I actually started visualizing things that could happen to me and that fear took root inside of me with the anger and then I started having some physiological effects of PTSD,” said Robichaux.
“A lot of times it`s the loss of your close brothers, your friends, just men and women you respect immensely going down in just horrible ways. You just see the violence and just the horror,” said Wilczak.
As a survivor of eight deployments to Afghanistan in the War on Terror and his successful career as a Pro MMA champion, it has helped him get in the ring and help others learn how to win the battle within. For hundreds of people at Lakeshore Community Church Sunday, the author`s meet and greet and Robichaux`s testimony was a must see.
“It helps me understand what my father went through. He went through the war in Russia and Italy and he use to have these terrible moods,” said attendee Peter Landauer.
“Anybody who struggles with anxiety or depression we just want them to know that there`s hope and that the answer to all of this is to not to take your life,” said Senior Pastor Vince Di Paola.
The Mighty Oaks Foundation, a program started by Chad Robichaux, has helped over 1200 graduates dealing with PTSD. With 30 programs a year geared towards helping these veterans free of charge, the foundation hopes to continue to be a success in the post war healing process.
“One of the things that we`re just so proud of is to date we haven`t lost one to suicide,” said Robichaux.
“He`s a great American hero so it`s a tremendous opportunity and we`re just honored to have him here,” said Di Paola.
The marine looks to continue to spread his life story of family, loss and hardship as a form of awareness to a disorder that has plagued the lives of the soldiers past and present.