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Valley veteran shares PTSD battles, mission to help others

(KTAR News Photo/ Ali Vetnar)

PHOENIX – A Valley veteran is taking his experiences with dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and using it to help other veterans.

David Campbell II, a former Army combat engineer, talked about his mission during a discussion focused on addressing veteran suicide with Second Lady Karen Pence in Phoenix on Friday. His experiences have led him to dedicate the past eight years of his life to helping other veterans who face the same struggles he has overcome.

“Military runs in my blood, so does PTSD,” Campbell said.

Campbell was among the first military personnel in Iraq when he was badly wounded in 2003. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and lost one of his legs.

“I have no memory of what happened, so when I got out of the military, I had a lot of denial, a lot of anger, a lot of depression – trust issues, you name it,” Campbell said.

Following his exit in the service, the next 25 years Campbell self-medicated and attempted to keep his struggles from coming to the surface. He described the only time he would leave his house would be to go to work or drink.

He expressed hating everyone around him, except for his wife. She was the reason he worked to change his life after abusing alcohol for over two decades.

“I finally decided to put these down,” Campbell said, lifting his fists, and that’s hard for a combat veteran to do, but I said, ‘Okay, I’m done fighting.’”

That’s when he decided to get sober. After a challenging chapter of his life at a recovery center in Utah, Campbell came back to the Valley and decided to help other like himself.

At Friday’s roundtable discussion, Campbell described his volunteer service in coordination with Scottsdale’s Heal the Hero foundation as well as The Mesa Veterans Resource Center.

“I’m here to get the word out and to show that it doesn’t matter how bad off you are – you can come through this,” Campbell said. “I consider myself the worst of the worst and I’m here to stand as a walking, talking miracle – with one leg, that anybody can do this.”

If you are a veteran in crisis, the Phoenix VA has multiple options for assistance, including a crisis hot line at 1-800-273-8255, online or by text to 838255.

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