BOSTON (CBS) — Army Captain Justin Fitch is dying. He has only months left. But before he was even diagnosed with cancer he thought about killing himself.
“When I first joined the Army in active duty there was a culture, a very quiet culture, of suffering in silence,” Fitch told WBZ-TV’s Jonathan Elias. “Mission first, never worry about yourself.”
But Justin, like thousands of other soldiers, was suffering. The war took friends from him and broke his spirit.
“I felt like there was no way out, better just death before dishonor,” he said. “So I grabbed a gun and almost put 4.5 pounds of pressure on the trigger into my head and ended it.”
But in that moment he says the voice of a lost comrade came to him. When things would get bad, his buddy would say “drive on.” He put the gun down and asked for help.
“Seeking help, I believe, made me a stronger person,” Fitch said. “From that point I was able to get rid of ever wanting to kill myself, and be happier, and enjoy life more, and deal with those dark things and face them head on.”
He also realized that while he felt alone, he wasn’t the only one with that feeling.
“When I learned that 22 veterans are killing themselves every day, I was just blown away,” he said. “I knew that was something I wanted to get involved in.”
He decided instead of taking his life he would devote it to saving others. Even after six surgeries and 50-plus chemotherapy treatments, Fitch commits himself to the Carry the Fallen group.
The veterans work together to help save each other. Former Air Force Staff Sgt. Chris Loiselle was one of those.
“It made me find the right help,” he said. “It saved me.”
Loiselle is one of dozens saved by Fitch. Now they stay close to him during his treatments to assure him what he started will live on.
“I call him my hero, he is why I am where I am today,” Loiselle said. “Alive and working on getting healthy, and trying to save my marriage and enjoying life.”
Justin was recently back for another round of chemo but it will only keep him down for a couple hours.
“My mission in life is to reduce the amount of 22 veteran suicides a day to zero,” Fitch said.
When he passes, he wants veterans to “remember they are worth it, they’re worth it, veterans don’t need to kill themselves.”
Fitch is only 32 years old and is married with no kids.
He says until his dying day he will work to help provide comfort to those who are suffering in silence.
For more information about the group, visit carrythefallen.org
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