As the Veterans Day weekend comes to a close, here’s a story about an Air Force veteran who has had three bouts with suicidal depression and came close to committing suicide but one thing stopped her from following through.
Air Force veteran Carla Almaraz spent four years in the Air Force but life after the service was more than she thought it would be.
In 2013, the year that Carla lost her job, brought a gun to a park, and was ready to turn it on herself – 22 veterans committed suicide every day. That’s one every 65 minutes, according to a study by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Given that 29 states, including three of the five most populous, didn’t provide information for the study, officials believe the number was considerably higher.
“I would be dead,” Carla says. “A statistic. But as I held the gun and was ready to bring it my head, my cell phone rang. It was a former co-worker. I didn’t answer it. But the ringing phone snapped me back.”
When she listened to the message later, the co-worker had wanted to know how she was doing.
“That call saved my life. The fact that someone was reaching out to me was the line that I needed.”
Carla, who worked as a radar technician on AWACs planes for the Air Force, had seen the military as a way to accomplish something, a way to escape.
“I grew up in northern Idaho in a town of 600,” she says. “There were no jobs, There was nothing for me there. The military offered me a way out. I did really well on my aptitude tests and had a chance to write my ticket to some degree.”
She did well enough that the Air Force promoted her to Senior Airman Below-the-Zone, an elite program open only to 15 percent of a given class that put her six months ahead of others. That led to one of the ultimate opportunities.
“I was sent to Boeing to conduct the final inspection on one of the AWACs,” Carla says. “It’s my signature on the paperwork that accepted 77-0352 into the Air Force.
“It’s my plane.”
While hard work and being good at what she did brought promotion and opportunity, it did not stop her from being physically attacked.
“I was basically raped,” she says. “It is the kind of thing that stays with you.” And, she says, often does not lead to justice. “You try to keep moving,” she says. “Just keep moving.”
Help a USAF Veteran who has had no income in 3 months in need by clicking here.
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