ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46)- Recent statistics show each day about 20 vets commit suicide.

One local organization is waging a battle against veteran suicide to help turn things around.

“It was sorta like a part of me was left over there,” said US Army Vet Jeff Mitchell, as he described his transition from serving two tours in Iraq back to civilian life. “The depression, drinking a lot, I wouldn’t leave the house, I couldn’t drive. I was medically retired in 2007 and thought that I’d go home for about six months and get my feet back on the ground and kinda live a normal life. But, it’s about 10 years later now and it’s not anything like that.”  

Mitchell said PTSD and depression took hold, and his family members hopelessly watched the downward spiral.

“Jeff once told me that he had three options, that he could be homeless, he could be in jail for illegal problems that happen as a result of PTSD, or he could be dead,” said Mitchel’s mom, Carol.

And Mitchell isn’t the only one in his unit suffering. 

“He lost more of his guys to suicide once they got home than he did in combat,” added Carol.

But, things started looking up when Mitchell received his service dog Austin through Paws4Vets. 

“The impacts that psychiatric support dogs and service dogs provide for these veterans really gave them a purpose and gave them a mindset that things are OK and things are going to get better.”

The dogs cost $65,000 and nonprofits like Heroes First, help raise the funds so vets like Mitchell can start the process to recovery. 

“It saved my life I don’t think I would be here if it wasn’t for Paws4Vets,” said Mitchell.

The tenth annual Hero's First charity event for Paws4Vets is May 9. For more details, click here

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