Before I joined the Marine Corps, I was always a bit of an oddball -- eccentric, outspoken, argumentative, just a little "off" -- qualities largely frowned upon in the Corps.
But after coming home from Iraq in 2005, I started to notice a dramatic shift in my personality.
I became paranoid, depressed, overly alert, and constantly on guard.
I was tired all the time, didn't sleep well at night, and often felt overwhelmed by even the most mundane day-to-day responsibilities.
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That is what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder looks -- and feels -- like.
It's not always what you see in the movies, on TV, or in the news. It's not always that overt. In fact, most veterans with PTSD lead incredibly normal, incredibly boring lives just like everyone else.
But sometimes the toughest battle is the unseen one.
There are approximately 22 million U.S. veterans, and from 11 to 20 percent of them are diagnosed with PTSD, according to the Veterans Affairs website va.gov. Many more go undiagnosed and never receive treatment. Even with that treatment, some service members succumb to their invisible wounds.
When I was a young, naive private, I learned the warning signs of PTSD from my senior leadership.
I knew the symptoms but I also knew that at that time, it was viewed as a weakness.
While that mentality has started to change, a few of my friends with PTSD still remain too ashamed and too embarrassed to tell anyone about their illness. Some of them even keep close friends and family members in the dark.
That means they carry this burden alone when they need our help the most.
We lose 22 veterans a day to suicide -- about one every 65 minutes, the VA website said.
Throughout my recovery, I found comfort in sharing my experiences, my thoughts, and my feelings with anyone willing to listen.
Sometimes that's all it takes.
As both a veteran and a University of South Carolina Beaufort student, I have also found comfort at the Sand Shark Veterans club, a place that can be a second home for those who sometimes struggle to drop their packs.
On Nov. 10 -- the 240th birthday of the Marine Corps -- the club hosted USCB's 2nd annual Veterans Day observance near the fountain in front of the Hargray Building. In addition to organizing the event, SSV members lined the university's walkways with American flags to honor service members, past and present.
On Nov. 11, the nation honors all of those who served. We must always remember to do that and to care for them, while they are away and after they come home.
Sometimes, it's as simple as being willing to listen.
Brian Vosicky is a Marine Corps veteran who served in the Middle East, Europe and Africa. He is studying psychology at the University of South Carolina Beaufort.