How veterans are helping other vets fight against suicide

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This week the Central Texas community lost another veteran.

On Monday Brett Aycock, a U.S. Army sniper veteran, killed himself.

This is especially hard for the community because Aycock was actively involved in raising awareness about veteran suicides.

He'd recently been working with the WYSH Project, a group we have profiled several times on the Care Gorce that fights against military suicide.

We want to extend our condolences to Aycock's family and friends.

The WYSH project isn't the only group fighting against vet suicide. There is also a state-wide organization called the Military Veterans Peer Network.

Mike Warren caught up with Christopher Araujo to learn more about the organization.

Araujo is one of about 36 area coordinators with the Military Veterans Peer Network.

The group's formula to help struggling vets is simple: they are veterans too.

"I'm a combat vet, you're a combat vet, I understand what you're going through, I can help with what you're going through because I've been there. I've done it," Araujo said.

He says that method works in Central Texas because the rate of veteran suicides here is far less than the national average of about 22 a day.

He says he's never lost anybody, and he's sure not going to lose Darrell Garrett, despite his PTSD.

Garrett served in Iraq and it was his parents who contacted the peer network because Garrett was isolating himself and they were worried.

"There've been days where I'm sad I woke up but I've never made a plan. You feel alone. Nobody understands what you're going through," he said.

"It's the feeling of hopelessness and that's what we do is in still hope in people to show them there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you can overcome the feelings and trauma you've suffered because of your military service," Araujo explained.

Garrett has lost comrades to suicide since his return and he feels a peer network could have helped them.

"My friend, the one the past year, I wished I'd have known things were that bad for him because I feel if he'd have found that one person to understand and talk to that he'd probably still be here," he said.

For Garrett personally, despite his struggles, he's looking forward because of a promise he made in Iraq.

"I told myself if I get out of here and live my life and when things get bad for me, I always tell myself it's never as bad as Iraq. So if I can get through that I can get through this."

There are about 40 trained military peers in the Austin/Travis County area.

The Military Veterans Peer Network is funded by the Texas Veterans Commission.