Jacob Schick: Veteran Suicide, Survival and Strength

The story of Jacob Schick is one of service; it's also one of sacrifice.

"I knew at the age of 8-years-old that I was going to be a Marine," said Schick, who would be following his family lineage of war fighters.

"Cause I just wanted to be able to say, ‘I did my part.' I want to contribute to this thing that we call freedom."

He signed up in high school, but even before boot camp he knew combat was in his future.

"When that second plane hit that south tower, I knew at the ripe old age of 19 I'm going to war," said Schick.

Three years later, driving a Humvee in Iraq, Schick hit an IED.

"We hit the bomb. Um, I remember everything. I remember everything. I remember being in the air, knowing that this is bad. This is really bad,” said Schick.

The bomb blew him through the roof of his Humvee.

His list of injuries from the blast included having his right leg amputated below the knee, his left pinky finger blown off and a hole through his arm. His recovery included 46 operations, 23 blood transfusions and 18 months in the hospital -- they weren't the worst part.

"It's the wounds you can't see that live six inches in between your ears that will be most detrimental to your well-being," Schick said.

He became addicted to pain medication and overcome with depression. 

"Just constantly contemplated suicide,” said Schick. “Just wondering, would it be easier if I was just gone?"

He said after about a year of that struggle, his wife, Laura, pleaded to him.

"She just looked at me and she said, 'Jake, the difference between you eating a bullet and living the way you're living is time, but the outcome's gonna be the same. You're killing yourself.' And she said, 'You owe it to your brothers that didn't come home, and those that did and still love and respect you, to not only live, but live well. That's the only way you can truly honor them. And you're being a selfish bastard,’ and I was like, 'Roger that,'" said Schick.

That next day, he started trying to get clean, but detoxing brought on a whole new battle.

"With 100 percent conviction I know why addicts stay addicts, because I've never been that ill in my life. I don't know what was worse: getting blown up or getting clean," said Schick.

Shick has now been clean for 10 years and enjoys riding motorcycles alongside his fellow veterans and co-workers at 22Kill, while working to convince his military brothers and sisters that this life is worth living

"If you're struggling, tell someone. It's OK. It's OK to not be OK," said Schick.

He said the way people can help, is simply by recognizing that the biggest battles can't always been seen.

"Everyone in here is fighting something. Everyone in here is battling something,” said Schick. “So just go out of your way to treat everybody you meet as if they had a broken heart."

Schick has been in documentaries about veterans and movies like American Sniper. He also works as the executive director of 22Kill, an organization famous for its pushup challenge. It's all in an effort to awareness about veteran suicide.

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