The war within: Veterans face a different battle re-adjusting to civilian life

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U.S. soldiers in front of the crossed sabres in Iraq. Credit Tyler Crane.

If you’re feeling alone, reach out. That’s the message one local retired service member has for other veterans.

At 31, Tyler Crane thought he’d still be in the military. In 2012, he renewed his contract as an Army Ranger. But Crane says the next day, he encountered a truck bomb in Afghanistan and, his life took a different turn. Injured, he returned to the states, ending his military career.

“It was hard going from the best, to being just another number on a paycheck,” he explained.

Depressed, Crane turned to local veteran support groups like, Heroes on the Water. According to him, there’s no better therapy than talking with someone who understands what you’ve been through.

“You know they’re not going to judge you,” he explained, “because they’re fighting the same fight and they’re having the same struggles.”

Mental Health Battles

According to Veterans Affairs, the suicide rate for veterans between the ages of 18-34 is on the rise. They went from 40.4 suicide deaths per 100,000 population in 2015 to 45 suicide deaths per 100,000 population. One of their primary focuses is on the veteran’s transition back to civilian life.

In January 2018, President Donald Trump signed an executive order providing all transitioning veterans with mental healthcare for at least a year after they leave the military.

Giving Back

With the help he received, Crane is settling into his new life and is now giving back to other veterans. About one year ago he started the non-profit Veteran Excursions to Sea or VETS. The group takes veterans and their families on fishing trips in Southwest Florida at no cost to them.

“Alternative therapies are a great way because its a way for a veteran to meet other veterans without being forced upon them,” Crane explained. “It’s something that you choose to do.”

If fishing isn’t for you, The Bay Pines VA Healthcare Center offers a variety of recreational therapies like music therapy, yoga and ceramics.

For more information on the Veteran Affairs ‘Be There’ campaign, visit

If you are a veteran or you know a veteran who is showing signs of suicide, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online at, or text to 838255 today.

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