SAN ANTONIO – September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and it is a time to reflect on one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. Sadly, many of those who fall victim to suicide are veterans.
Thomas Spooner is a former U.S. Army Special Forces Delta Operator. Service to country and family tradition is what inspired Spooner to enlist in the Army back in 1990.
His career consisted of 12 deployments, adding up to 40 total months of combat. The deployments not only led to physical injuries, but post-traumatic stress as well.
By 2010, Spooner was dealing with many symptoms: he said he was feeling disoriented, had huge emotional mood swings and what he also describes as a lot of mental noise. In an effort of making that noise come to an end, Spooner said he found himself navigating down a suicidal road.
Spooner eventually was diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury. He said it was a distinct turning point in his life.
“For me, where everything changed, they call it I think a sentinel event, you know, back in 2006, thousands of close mortar rounds about 20-meters away hit, and that’s where I got my TBI,” said Spooner.
Spooner credits family and friends for helping him navigate through his challenges. But he realizes asking for help is not always easy.
Spooner’s mission now is helping his fellow warriors deal with PTSD, addiction and traumatic brain injury.
In 2016, Spooner co-founded Warriors Heart, a place where active military, veterans and first responders can be around others who understand the burden of post traumatic stress.
“There’s power when likeminded people share experiences to some degree, you know, it’s powerful,” Spooner said. “Whatever it takes, you know, wherever you’re at. And on that scale, you know, you engage in your life because you’re not alone. You’re worth it. And choose life.”
If you or anyone you know needs help, the Warriors Heart hotline is 844-448-2567. It is answered by warriors 24 hours, or you can visit WarriorsHeart.com for more information.