Group helps veterans, families know they are not alone - WSMV Channel 4

Group helps veterans, families know they are not alone

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Once the fanfare of coming back home has ended, many soldiers have a difficult time adjusting to life as a civilian. In fact, since 2011, there have been more military suicides than soldiers killed in combat.

But one Nashville-based nonprofit is changing lives in a big way.

"My life was pretty much a mess when I got out of the Marine Corps. I didn't know how to cope. I didn't know how to adjust. I didn't know how to be a civilian as an adult," said veteran Adam Thomas.

Like many, Thomas enlisted in the Marines right after high school. For the next four years, the battlefield was the only life he knew.

"From 18 to 22, that's the life I lived. And when I left that, like I said, my entire adult life was spent there. Now, I'm trying to transition back into the real world, civilian world," Thomas said.

Then, in some of his darkest hours last February, the phone rang. It was a call that very well may have saved his life.

"There's 22 veteran suicides a day in America. Twenty-two veterans are committing suicide. One every 65 minutes, and it's gotta stop," said Zachary Bell, with the nonprofit group Not Alone.

In the wake of those staggering numbers, Not Alone was born. It provides resources that are helping soldiers and their families bridge the gap between the battlefield and civilian life.

"It changed my life. It absolutely changed my life," Thomas said.

The help is not just for soldiers. Not Alone caters to family members who might be ill-equipped to help their loved ones readjust.

"I was able to get a counselor. They called me. We talked about issues, problems. We brainstormed on things we might do to help him," said Thomas' mother, LeAnne Thomas.

Now, veterans, their family members and Not Alone are doing what was once impossible. It's a battle they are taking just as seriously as the War on Terror.

"If we're losing the war at home, what's the point if we're not trying to do anything as a whole? But together, we can make this a strong network, a strong home base unit," Bell said.

The VA offers some similar services, and the two are meant to work in tandem.

If you know a veteran or family who needs help, or if you would like to donate to Not Alone, visit: http://www.notalone.com/.

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