Grieving family pushes for help for Veterans
Jan 23, 2013
By Paige Hansen
A tragedy for one local family is resulting in a push for more awareness for veterans who have post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Thirty-year-old Dustin Wernli was laid to rest over the weekend after he died last week after calling 911 saying he was a combat veteran with PTSD and was feeling suicidal.
Officers responded to the scene, speaking with Wernli for about 15 minutes before shooting him when Police say he reached for a gun. The veteran died at the hospital.
Hundreds of thousands of veterans are treated each year for PTSD nationwide. The VA in Tucson says last year alone, about 2,600 veterans came in for treatment. Wernli's family says their son was being treated for PTSD at the VA and getting private help. While there are lots of services available for veterans, the VA says they are very under-used.
"'Doc' (Dustin's nickname) and I talked a lot about how we prepared for the military," explained Michael Kase a friend of Dustin's and a fellow veteran. "Everything was physical because we knew all these physical hardships we'd encounter but neither of us did anything mentally or emotionally to prepare for those emotional hardships we were going to encounter."
Dustin's parents didn't want to talk on camera but want people to know their son was a good person, a field medic who during his nine months in Iraq, saw the worst of it and was responsible for trying to save lives.
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