On Memorial Day of this year, Drew Winkler, a U.S. Air Force Veteran from Crestview, Florida became a statistic. One of 22 veterans commit suicide everyday, but Winkler’s family is hoping change will come from their tragedy.
At 26 years old, Drew Winkler had a lot to live for. He was the father of two small children, 3 year old Christian and 18 month old Caydan.
Drew’s parents, Rebecca and Rick Winkler describe their son as happy and outgoing, but said serving the U.S. Air Force in Iraq changed him. “I watched him crash on our couch. I just watched him crash and go into a dark hole to him putting a blanket over his head”, said Rebecca Winkler.
Diagnosed in Italy with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Drew returned home a different person.
“He came back. We knew immediately. I mean it wasn’t very long until Rick and I actually had a conversation I told him. I don’t know who that is”, said Rebecca Winkler.
Drew’s parents say he suffered night terrors and talked about demons. On Memorial Day, he posted his final comment on Facebook. “1 of 22 per day…….whey (why) can’t they just help us…goodbye”.
Shortly after that haunting Facebook post ,Drew’s younger brother found him outside his parents’ home in his car where he had shot himself in the head.
The Winklers have so many questions for Drew that they’ll never have answered. They also have a lot of anger, saying Drew repeatedly reached out to the V-A for help for his PTSD but, constantly got the runaround.
“Enough is enough. No more babies should lose their parents. No more parents should have to bury or put to rest their children. No more siblings should have to watch their brother or sister in a casket”, said Rebecca Winkler.
Drew’s brother, Corey said, “I mean if he’s asking for help. Listen and I think that would be the biggest message Drew would want people to know Is you know..the run around is no longer gonna be accepted”.
Many people are participating in the push-up challenge in Drew’s honor. They’re doing 22 push-ups a day for 22 days to spread awareness. The Winkler Family has also created a Facebook page. Winkler’s wish 22 to zero.https://www.facebook.com/#!/Winklers-Wish-22-to-0-1104002092993593/?fref=ts
Moderators manage the page to give Veterans someone to talk to about PTSD.
“We know what you’re going through is real because our son went through it until he couldn’t fight anymore and our last wish…and Winkler’s wish..is that it goes to 22 to zero and that no more veteran feel like they have nowhere to go. No one to talk to and no other steps to take because enough is enough”, said Rebecca Winkler.
In addition to helping other veterans, The Winklers are trying to raise money to help support their grandsons.
2. Coastal Bank Acct# 063208140
3. Or mailed to Drew Winkler
C/O Richard Winker
458 Jillian Dr
Crestview, FL 32536