Thomasville veteran ends his struggle with PTSD. His family tells their story - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Thomasville veteran ends his struggle with PTSD. His family tells their story

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By Christian Jennings - bio | email

February 6, 2009

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - Soldier suicide rates are up drastically and are continuing to grow.  The Army reported that 24 soldiers are believe to have committed suicide in January alone.

And many veteran suicides are a result of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. One family in Thomasville knows first hand what it's like to loose a son struggling with PTSD.

Pvt. Joseph McMath died at the young age of 24 on January 13, 2009, from a drug overdose.

Proud parents David and Linda McMath can only smile at the memory of their beloved son.

"He was just a good hearted person," said Joseph's mother Linda McMath.  

Pvt. Joseph Aaron McMath was a veteran of the United States Army. He served in the Striker Brigade Unit in Iraq.

"It was 9/11/2001...he signed up, and went to Iraq in 2004, and he did 2 tours of duty, back to back," she said.

He was stationed in Ft. Lewis, Washington for three years....but it was his year overseas that changed him forever.

"He did have a nervous breakdown over there. There was also we found out a shockwave from a bomb that went off close to him and it slung him 500 feet," said his mom.

When he returned from war in February of 2005, his life began a downward spiral.

"For four years after the war, he was not Joseph, he was somebody else," said his father David McMath.

"We finally got him diagnosed with severe PTSD and also with traumatic brain injury," said Ms. McMath.

PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a common disease many military men and women develop after war.

Joseph's doctor told the McMath's that their son's case was the worst he'd ever seen.

"He would be very very depressed to the point that he would not even get out of bed. He got to the point where he didn't really enjoy life like he did at one time. Flashbacks, he had flashbacks so severe during the night he would have to just about have to be knocked completely out with medications in order to get any sleep," his parents said.

And on January 13, 2009 it was a deadly combination of drugs that took his life.

Joseph McMath overdosed on his medications, his mother saw her son lying lifeless on his bathroom floor.

"I started doing compressions, he started clearing an airway, but it was too late. He was gone," she said.

Now the McMath's are taking life one day at a time.

"Our faith has sustained us because if not for the Lord Jesus Christ we could not make it," said Mr. McMath.

And they live on to tell the story of their son's struggle.

"The guys that come back, they do have a different personality, and they do have addictions and problems. But these people need all the support they can get, please don't turn your back on them," she said.

A message the McMath's hope just maybe will save at least one life as precious as their son's.

The McMath's are struggling financially and now have a $9,000 funeral expense.

They're hoping to receive the VA Death Benefit of $2500 dollars, but even that will still leave them a debt of over $6,000.

If you want to help this Heroes family, you can send checks or money orders to:

Commercial Bank

Attention: Heidi Hunter

P.O Box 710

Thomasville, GA 31799

For verification or questions, contact Heidi Hunter at 229-226-3535. Feedback