(NBC) - Army Major Jeff Hall always dreamed of becoming a soldier. His first
deployment to Iraq in 2003 was everything he'd imagined.
"We were rounding up bad people, we were doing raids, we were helping the population," he recalls.
Two years into the war things changed. He'd seen death before and was prepared for it, but in 2005 he lost two men under his command.
"I had a very difficult time recovering from that event," he says now.
Married 20 years, Major Hall's wife Sheri says she barely recognized her husband when he came home.
"One minute he could be happy-go-lucky Jeff, and the next minute his eyes would go completely black and he would just be angry," she says.
Major Hall exposed his post-traumatic stress demons through self-portraits.
"To come across as a broken vessel is death to you in the combat arms," he says. "Who wants to follow the officer who's gone crazy?"
It turns out many did, and encouraged him when he finally spoke up.
He's been heavily involved in a campaign called "Real Warriors" that works to reduce stigma attached to mental illnesses, and finds help for soldiers, anonymously if necessary.
Increasingly the senior leadership of the military is reaching out to its troops to tell them they don't have to suffer alone when they get home.
Two websites can help soldiers determine the extent of their post-traumatic stress and find help, anonymously if necessary: MilitaryMentalHealth.org and RealWarriors.net
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