A Pennsylvania mother is speaking out about the dangers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after her veteran son committed suicide in February 2016.
The memorial for Terry O'Hearn, 30, will be held by his Air Force veteran mother, Robin Kiepert, and his family March 19, KTVU reports.
"For people like Terry, it's a need to take care of them when they get back. They're not the same person that left," said Kiepert.
"When he got back from Afghanistan, he was angry. His personality really changed," added Kiepert.
Eventually he attempted suicide and was treated at a VA hospital in California, where they diagnosed him with PTSD.
Yet when he was released, he became even angrier and started to isolate himself from family and friends.
"He won't even allow me to come see him," said Kiepert, who would try to visit him at his apartment but couldn’t get in.
"I'm angry at him yes...we were so close. I'm angry at myself. I'm his mother you should be able to help your children if they can't help themselves," added Kiepert.
He attempted suicide a second time in January. When she visited her boy, she hardly recognized him.
"This is a monster almost. Here's a person this is not the child I raised. This is not the child that would talk to his mother this way. He's so broken," said Kiepert.
In February, he successfully hanged himself.
"If there is anybody out there with a son or daughter that says 'I don't want you to talk to me,' you need to talk to a lot of people about your son or your daughter or your wife or your husband," Kiepert now warns.
She encourages others to learn more about recognizing PTSD and to get support from initiatives such as Stop Soldier Suicide.
According to the organization, 22 veterans commit suicide every day.
“It can be difficult to know how to help someone who doesn’t ask for help and/or doesn’t seem to want help,” the organization says on their website. “One thing you have to do is face it head on. Don’t be afraid to ask if the Veteran or Soldier is suicidal or has had thoughts of suicide.”
Veterans who need help can also call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (dial 1 after).