EUGENE, Ore. — The numbers are alarming. According to the Department of Defense, in 2012 the U.S. military suicide rate grew 15 percent. But it’s not just veterans who are suffering. A veteran’s wife who’s drawn on her own experience is now offers support for others.
Kati De’Atley world is a mother of two and on-the-go. She’s even mastering cooking and communicating.
“(I) do everything off the phone in between my everyday duties,” she said.
Kati’s also her husband’s caregiver. Matt De’Atley is a veteran. He served six years in the U.S. military, including a 13-month tour of duty to Afghanistan. When he returned in 2008, that’s when everything changed.
“Within days of him coming home, you notice changes…you know, demeanor. They are always looking over their shoulder,” Kati said.
Matt was officially diagnosed with PTSD in 2010. He’s not alone. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 30 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans treated at VA hospital have been diagnosed PTSD.
Suicide rates for active military members and veterans are also on the rise.
“I personally got to a point that it was so overwhelming that I was personally walking around with a suicide note in my purse in January,” Kati said.
Kati was at her breaking point. She reached out to support groups and found the help she needed, but something was missing.
“What I felt like is that within the community we still needed something uplifting,” Kati said.
Shortly after that, she created Care Packages by Kate for spouses, girlfriends and partners of veterans. Her personal therapy turned into helping others. The group’s Facebook page is now up to 660 likes and is growing.
Friend there exchange stories, offer support, inspiration and they receive special care packages.
Kati says she invested more than $3,000 in items so far. Some have been given to her, including lotions, chocolates and goodie bags. Each bag comes with a “Support Veterans” bracelet. On the back is a 1-800 crisis number to call to get help. It’s the same bracelet her husband Matt wears.
“I don’t think they recognize the severity of the problem, and I don’t think most veterans can’t get past the fact that they need help,” Matt said.
Kati’s goal is to spread the word that help is out there. Of course, her help comes wrapped with love. Inside each care package is a hand-written note. The items are carefully wrapped. It’s a little pick me up to make someone feel good to let them know they are not alone.