LOS ANGELES - It has been more than 15 years since Louis Geiger was last sent into combat. During his service with the United States Marine Corps, Geiger was sent overseas twice for Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Desert Storm/Shield and Operation Noble Eagle.
Those experiences completely changed his life.
“I’m caught between civilian life and the military life. After all this time, I still wear my dog tags. I mean who does that? You know, I still have my watch set 15 minutes prior. Who does that?” Geiger said.
Geiger suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. As an Informations Services Representative at the National Veterans Foundation, he spends his days answering calls from veterans throughout the country who are seeking resources, and at times, emotional support.
“The phone calls I get [are] real-time, real situations and some of these calls are very serious. I know what they are talking about so it’s helping me with my PTSD,” Geiger said.
Geiger handles about 50 calls per day at the National Veterans Foundation. Around Memorial Day, Geiger and the foundation see an increase in calls from veterans that are experiencing loneliness, depression and suicidal thoughts.
According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, about 20 veterans die each day from suicide. That’s why Geiger said this organization takes each call seriously.
“It’s mixed for many veterans that were in combat. I think it really deals with the loss of people you knew when you were in the combat zone regardless of what war. It’s pretty reflective of the loss of lives, the loss of mind and body even for those who have come home,” Shad Meshad, Founder of National Veterans Foundation said.
Geiger said hearing the words, thank you for your service, during this time comes as an overwhelming feeling especially as he tries to emotionally work past the day.
“It’s so appreciated. It really is. It’s just really hard to understand how veterans think. Once you’re in a combat zone or in theater things aren’t the same when you come home,” Geiger said.
At the National Veterans Foundation, the phones ring year-round with veterans like Geiger answering each call in hopes of helping veterans throughout the country know that they are not alone.
Veterans can request assistance from the National Veterans Foundation online or by calling the Lifeline For Vets hotline 877-777-4443.