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Valley veteran raising awareness about mental health
Army National Guard Veteran Anthony Rumore Raises Awareness on Mental Health Challenges
Veterans are 57% more likely to die by suicide, the Department of Veterans Affairs says
As we approach Veterans Day, ABC15 is taking a closer look at issues impacting veterans here in Arizona and across the country.
Veterans are 57% more likely to die by suicide - that's according to a report from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
But the mental health concerns extend beyond that.
ABC15 recently sat down with a Valley veteran who is taking action to raise awareness and show other veterans that they are not alone.
"Imagine walking outside of your door every single day and thinking about someone trying to kill you."
What may seem like a plot out of a movie was real life for Army National Guard veteran Anthony Rumore.
"That's what it was like every single day we went outside the wire," explains Rumore. "We were shot at, we were blown up outside of our vehicles."
Anthony grew up on New York's Long Island, but now, this husband, father of two, and business owner calls Cave Creek home.
Nearly two decades ago, in 2004, his home was an army base in Iraq where he served as a military police officer in the middle of several combat missions.
"Our main mission was to find insurgents and also IEDs...You just get thick-skinned and you're not thinking about, 'am I going to survive?' You come to know, 'I am going to survive.'"
And survive he did - but not without his share of wounds. Anthony injured his back during his training and came home after a year in Iraq with something else that was initially harder to notice.
"In the middle of the bar, I started crying and crumbled just not being able to deal with that environment. It was just completely different. It just changes your mind completely."
Anthony would soon realize he was dealing with PTSD.
"I cannot describe as to why, but I knew I wasn't the same person before I left."
According to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, 15% of vets from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom suffered from PTSD in the past year, but nearly double that - 29% - will experience PTSD at some point in their lives.
For Anthony, the road to healing meant going to therapy where he says the help he got was life-changing.
"The best words I was given is - you will never be the person you were before you left for combat, but the day you start working on the new you, that's the first day of your recovery. And that was my lightbulb moment. That is what changed everything."
For more on the VA's research into PTSD, click here.