He returned from his first deployment in 2008 with PTSD and TBI and suffered from headaches, anxiety, guilt, tinnitus and memory problems, Lahas said. He refused to seek help, she said, because he saw other soldiers ridiculed who did.
When he finally did seek help, he was given a "cocktail of death," that included antidepressants, anxiety medications and sleep aids, Lahas said.
"He was so overmedicated he could not care for himself -- eat, sleep or brush his teeth," she said.
The drugs and stress led him to try to take his own life, and while standing in his bathroom bleeding, he drew a smiley face on the wall in his own blood, she said.
Her son's wife found him and called for help. He was sent to a civilian clinic where he was diagnosed with PTSD.
"We gave them a normal teenager and they gave back a broken soldier that looked like a concentration camp survivor," Lahas said.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has estimated that more than 6,000 veterans from past and ongoing conflicts will commit suicide this year.
Reach Veronica Nett at veroni...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.