There's a growing problem nationwide affecting thousands of military families, including many here in southeastern North Carolina.
Military suicides have increased since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
One military mom is using her personal experience to prevent other families from going through the same tragedy that she did.
According to www.activeheroes.org, a record number of veterans have made suicide attempts over the past two years.
Between 2009 and 2011, 22 military veterans tried to kill themselves every day, meaning one U.S. veteran attempted suicide every 80 minutes.
Meanwhile, unemployment among veterans is at an all time high.
Wilmington's Patty Owen knows firsthand how difficult life can be for a military veteran. Her nephew, a U.S. Army veteran, took his own life three years ago after returning from the war in Afghanistan.
"He really struggled with his friends that went over and didn't come back. He actually took his life, three years ago in October," said a teary eyed Owen. "So, when I found this charity and I knew what they were doing, I knew that if I could save one person then I'm honoring Josh."
Faced with the stigma of post-traumatic stress disorder and a loss of the military camaraderie, many veterans report feeling lost once they get home. Owen hopes that doesn't happen to her son, a member of the U.S. Navy, currently stationed in Guam.
Patty is starting a new tradition with the help of her favorite charity, Active Heroes, to help military families so they won't have to experience the loss like she did.
"They join the military to protect us and they come back and you can't see their physical wounds, but they're wounded inside," Owen said. "They just have a hard time dealing with it, so anything we can do to help make it easier for them, so that they know there's an outlet for them. There's somewhere they can go that's peaceful and people care."
Owen has organized a special military fundraiser with representatives from each branch competing to see who can stand at attention for the longest.
The event takes place Saturday, Sept. 6 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. at Independence Mall in Wilmington.
For more information including details about the featured activities and how you can be a part of saving military lives, click here.
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