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Homecoming can be a difficult transition for veterans

Reported by: Denise Rosch
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Updated: 5/21 8:43 am

LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews) For many combat veterans, coming home can be a difficult transition for both them and their families.

According to government statistics, hundreds of thousands of veterans are returning with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

Unfortunately for many combat vets, there is no storybook ending. Life after the military and fitting back into a civilian routine is difficult.

"It's hard in the beginning because you just want to be with the guys you were with. You're used to being with them. Some things you don't get over, but some things you push to the back and just keep going," said veteran Chris Copeland.

Copeland served with both the United States Marine Corps and the Army. He was medically discharged two years ago after his most recent tour in Iraq.

He lost friends there and suffered a traumatic brain injury.

"I have scarring on my brain so it kinda messes up my memory and stuff," Copeland said.

Most of his experiences he keeps to himself, despite the constant support of his wife Adriana and daughter Mykaila.

"I don't really talk about it," Copeland said. "I don't even talk about it with her; she just knows from my dreams I guess. I guess I have nightmares. That's the only reason she knows of the stuff I've done."

The Copelands' story is increasingly more common for returning veterans. According to the non-profit group U.S. Vets, some 300,000 service members deployed since 9-1-1 have come home with psychological injuries including PTSD.

At the Veteran Affairs hospital, counselors say the key is early intervention.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Heather Silvio sees as many as 40 to 50 patients a week, with symptoms from irritability to night terrors. She knows combat experience can affect the entire family, especially when mom or dad returns a different person. Still, post-traumatic stress, she says, isn't a new problem.

While Copeland has family to lean on, many combat vets end up homeless and alone.

Coming up Tuesday, Denise Rosch takes a look at one agency out to find those forgotten soldiers and one veteran trying to help those found, reconnect with life.

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