Iraq veteran battles PTSD after returning home, dedicates life to helping other vets

    Angela Peacock poses for a portrait on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, in at St. Charles Community College, in St. Charles, Mo. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt. Image Courtesy: Wounded Warrior Project)

    In KTVO's Stand for the Silent series, we are focusing on wounded warriors.

    Veterans can face a different kind a battle when transitioning from life as a soldier to a civilian.

    Angie Peacock, of St. Charles, Missouri, always knew that wanted to be in the military.

    Right out of high school in 1998 she joined the Army. She continued to serve her country after 9/11 and was deployed in May 2003 to Baghdad, Iraq.

    Angie said she felt the near constant threat of death everywhere.

    “I was basically doing convoy three or four days a week, doing guard duty at night when we would take small arms fire, there would be mortars coming at us, all kinds of dangers, and I just thought, 'I’m going to die from some disease that I have, or I’m going to get killed on a convoy,'” Angie recalled of her time overseas.

    She was medically evacuated after coming down with a disease that caused her to lose an unhealthy amount of weight.

    “The day after I got to the hospital in Germany, our convoy got hit by an IED, a convoy I should have been on,” Angie said.

    She said she felt responsible for not being with her soldiers.

    “I carried a lot of guilt for a long time, like I should have been there when it happened,” Angie said.

    It was then she decided to seek mental health treatment, but shortly after that, she was medically retired. She said she felt like she didn’t know who she was anymore.

    “That next day when I didn’t have to wake up and put my uniform on was pretty devastating,” Angie recalled. “I felt like I lost my identity, I didn’t really know what I was going to do next, because the Army was my life for about six years and nine months. So I was devastated to say the least.”

    For years, Angie was at a desperate low, even attempting suicide. She remembers self-medicating and trying all different kinds of therapy. Until one day, when talking with a female combat veteran at a Wounded Warrior retreat, she felt understood for the first time.

    “There’s not one way to heal, everybody has to find what works for them,” Angie said. “I tried things that didn’t work, and I tried things that did work. There were a couple years that I did equine therapy, and it changed my life.”

    From working with horses, to having a service dog, to being involved in exercise programs, Angie found her purpose. She graduated college with a 4.0 and a degree in psychology. Now she’s continuing her education and getting a master’s degree in social work, all with the goal of helping other veterans.

    Now, she wants other veterans to know that if they’re suffering, there’s an entire network of people, just like herself, who are on the other side of struggles, and it does get better.

    “I think the best advice I could ever say is that, 'What you went through was really hard, and it can devastate your life for a time, but nothing is permanent, there are ways to heal from what happened to you. There are ways to cope. There are communities of people, with similar life experiences like you that if you just look around, and I know it’s hard to come out of that darkness and ask for help,' or find someone who listens to you without judgment, but we are here and we are around, and there’s probably millions of us who would be willing to help you at the drop of a hat. So don’t give up. Never ever give up.”

    If you or a veteran you know needs immediate help – call the Veteran's Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

    For more information and resources, visit Wounded Warrior Project’s website.

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