The Veteran Advantage Series - Post Traumatic Growth

“We’ve seen some great men in our Special Operations community and Veterans men and women, that seemed to have it all, that has a wife, a child, a husband or children; and still take their lives,” says Rudy Reyes in an interview with Matt Sapaula in November of 2018. (Reyes, 2018)

Rudy suffered his own depression after leaving the military almost committing suicide. He was not the veteran suffering out on the streets with no home, he was an actor and a model -  nominated for Best Supporting Actor in the HBO series Generation Kill.(IMDB 2019) Many believe it is war that drives veterans to suicide, other studies would show differently.

“Veteran cohorts had 24% to 25% lower mortality risk from all causes combined but had 41% to 61% higher risk of suicide relative to the US general population.” (Kang et al, 2015)

These healthy people are at risk for suicide, however, the cause is not what people are imagining.

“Multiple deployments were not associated with the excess suicide risk among deployed veterans.” The study controlled for many factors and found that, in fact, “deployed veterans showed a lower risk of suicide compared with nondeployed veterans.”(Kang et al, 2015)


This is the opposite of what many believe in and out of the veteran community and because of it, some of our nation's most highly trained and skilled are starting to believe it. The illusion must be shattered. As Patrick Alcorn told me at the Military Influencer conference in 2018, “We’ve got to flip the script.” He’s absolutely right.

If experiencing war and the traumas associated with it are not causing this problem. What is? After discussing the issue with many veterans, a theme is beginning to develop around the community we lose after getting out. The transition can be brutal for many now missing their high functioning team full of their brothers and sisters who deeply care about each other.

In my book The Veteran Advantage, I discuss the veteran transition and give examples of what Jeremie Green describes as “perpetual stumbling.” The stumbling generally continues until the veteran finds a new tribe or realizes they’ve had one all along in the veteran community. All they had to do was reach out. Unfortunately, this is something we could all do better for ourselves and each other.

“We’ve got to do something about that. It’s not post-traumatic stress its post-traumatic growth, get back to the ethos, the camaraderie, the blood, the love, the shared suffering, and the shared laughter - that we experienced together.” says Rudy. (Reyes, 2018)

“It was that love that helped me take that gun out of my mouth,” says Rudy. When he was going through his struggle, nobody was talking about it. (Reyes, 2018) Now, Rudy is talking about it, and he’s flipping the script.

The experience of war doesn’t drive us to suicide, it binds us together - losing those bonds is painful.

“Not anymore, not on my watch, not on my legacy - we’re going to open it up for everybody to understand that what they’re going through, they’re not alone, one of their leaders they look up to, he’s the first one to say it. That his heart was hurt, that his mind didn’t know what to do and he pushed everybody away.” (Reyes, 2018)

Reach out to a veteran or anyone else that is stumbling and provide some support for growth. The process will be rewarding for you, the person help and the others they will help because you’ve helped them. Be a leader.

“Understand that when you reach out, five more will be reaching back out to you.” -Rudy Reyes


By: Tyler Reiser

Author, The Veteran Advantage

Reyes, R. (2018). Marine Corps Force Recon's Rudy Reyes Reveals Truth Behind the Scenes | GetSum EP2. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGANvfxnWsU [Accessed 28 Sep. 2019].

IMDb. (2019). Rudy Reyes - IMDb. [online] Available at: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2674478/?ref_=tt_cl_t14 [Accessed 28 Sep. 2019].

Reyes, R. (2018). Marine Corps Force Recon's Rudy Reyes Reveals Truth Behind the Scenes | GetSum EP2. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGANvfxnWsU [Accessed 28 Sep. 2019].

Kang HK, e. (2015). Suicide risk among 1.3 million veterans who were on active duty during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. - PubMed - NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25533155 [Accessed 28 Sep. 2019].

Kang HK, e. (2015). Suicide risk among 1.3 million veterans who were on active duty during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. - PubMed - NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25533155 [Accessed 28 Sep. 2019].

Reyes, R. (2018). Marine Corps Force Recon's Rudy Reyes Reveals Truth Behind the Scenes | GetSum EP2. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGANvfxnWsU [Accessed 28 Sep. 2019].

Reyes, R. (2018). Marine Corps Force Recon's Rudy Reyes Reveals Truth Behind the Scenes | GetSum EP2. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGANvfxnWsU [Accessed 28 Sep. 2019].

Kang HK, e. (2015). Suicide risk among 1.3 million veterans who were on active duty during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. - PubMed - NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25533155 [Accessed 28 Sep. 2019].


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