H-MORRO BAY

Apr 25, 2013 9:35 PM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

Local Marines take on a new battle: suicide among veterans

Two local Marines are taking on a new battle, that is, against suicide.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs says someone can suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after going through a traumatic event like combat, assault, or a disaster.

Veterans Matt Reid and Daniel Pitocco said PTSD is one of the leading factors of high suicide rates among veterans and something needs to be done.

The two, who live in Morro Bay, said after serving multiple tours overseas, coming home wasn't as easy as they'd hoped.

"It's feelings of isolation. You come back and you bottle things up," said Pitocco.

He and Reid said they've lost six comrades, but not from war as one might expect, rather something perhaps much deeper and darker.

Pitocco shared a story of one of his fellow brothers. "At the time of committing suicide, he had three Marines within about 30 minutes to an hour of him, and he felt so alone, so within his own mind, wrestling his demons that he didn't reach out," he said.

Pitocco said the statistics on veteran suicide are alarming.

"I believe that the non-combat deaths are higher. We have 22 a day, and we're not losing 22 a day overseas. You know, the Iraq War has come to a close for the most part, and we're losing about one veteran every 65 minutes approximately, to suicide," said Pitocco.

Last year, the duo decided to fight against the inner demon of PTSD and suicide, and they created the foundation called "Mind Over Matter". Reid said the organization's purpose is to help veterans and their families and empower people with knowledge of PTSD and suicide awareness.

Reid said, "Mind Over Matter is really all about reaching out to those veterans who are struggling, like myself, and let them know that they're not alone in the struggle."

Mind Over Matter is holding a PTSD and suicide awareness conference on Saturday, April 27 from 10am to noon at the New Life Church in Pismo Beach. The event is open to the public.

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