NEWTON, Iowa -- Keith McMillan is able to apply the work ethic and discipline he learned, during his time in the military, to his job now as a quality assurance technician at Graphic Packaging International. "Being a Veteran and transitioning from a military side to a civilian side, Graphic Packaging has been very supportive of everything that we go through as veterans," said McMillan.
But that transition hasn't been easy.
"That’s been a personal battle of myself..." said 47 year-old McMillan, who has served in the U.S. Army during both of America's wars in Iraq. Memories of those conflicts can be easily triggered.
"I can't watch TV shows," said McMillan.
For a long time McMillan didn't know how to deal with what he had experienced in war. McMillan says for 15 years, he bottled it all inside. Then he was finally able to find a release.
"Well, the best person for me to talk to is my best friend, my wife," said McMillan. "So, I started talking and some of this started coming out. A lot of tears were shed and a lot of memories were re-lived, but it was well worth it."
Now McMillan is helping other veterans find healing, by pointing them to the non-profit organization Mission 22. The non-profit provides resources to veterans, including comprehensive wellness, a war detox program, health and housing access, and horse therapy.
"They have those several different programs that you can get into," said McMillan. "And, they just started a new one this year. It's called WIN, warriors integration now. It's actually a 12-month program, where they`ll take the veteran to the location and work with them for 12 months to get him reintegrated back into a civilian society."
As an Ambassador for Mission 22, McMillan is continuing to serve his country, by helping his fellow heroes find the support they deserve.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and its most recent analysis of Veteran suicide data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, everyday 20 veterans commit suicide.