Chief Warrant Office 3 Zac Miller, of West Lafayette, admitted that it wasn’t facing our enemies, nor the length of time away from home that was the most difficult aspect of spending time overseas during his deployment.
In the Coshocton County Veterans newsletter, Miller said that during his service he had rockets, mortars and improvised explosive devices go off near him and been fired on by enemies.
"This may seem bad, but is not the roughest part," he said. "For me, the roughest part was leaving my loved ones back here in Coshocton, Ohio."
His last deployment, from which he returned in April, was the toughest by far, he said. When he first went overseas in 2004, he was not married. The second time in 2008 he had a wife. This last time he had a wife and two children. This experience is quite common among those who have served or are currently serving, but for those who have never been faced with the pro-spect of leaving family and friends be-hind it may be difficult to imagine.
"At my coming home ceremony afterward, I cried. Because, at this moment, all of the stress and relief finally hit me. It was a surreal moment," he said. "I was finally back to my family, my family I had so dearly missed over 12 months. I think it was the first time in 18 years I had shed a tear."
Miller shared his story because he knows there are many out there who have been effected by the horrors of war more than he who suffer greatly with post-traumatic stress disorder and shared that an average 20 veterans die of suicide daily according to 2017 Veterans Affairs study. He admitted that his awareness of the statistics comes from an extremely per-sonal level.
"One of the biggest issues facing this generation, my generation of veterans is PTSD ... I've lost a total of nine comrades from these three deployments alone due to PTSD. I'd like to say this is an isolated event, but I can't. This is becoming very common," Miller said. "If you see or know a veteran going through hard times with mental health issues, please take them seriously and don't ignore it. Sometimes that veteran might just need someone to talk to them; sometimes they might need actual medical care. Just remember if you are that veteran, there is help out there and you are not alone."
A West Lafayette native, Miller enlisted in the Ohio National Guard in 2000 at the age of 17. He has served three tours of duties overseas, the most recent in 2017 where he served with the 371st Sustainment Brigade in Iraq, Kuwait and Syria. He holds the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 3 and is with the 211th Support Maintenance Company stationed in Newark. He became an assistant veteran’s service officer for Coshocton County in 2016.
Also during the Veterans Day ceremony on the Coshocton County Court Square, Sharon Burns, president of the Blue Star Mothers Chapter #OH59 spoke on behalf of her organization and Pastor Mike Jansen of the Coshocton Christian Tabernacle delivered the Invocation and Benediction. Patriotic music was performed by the legendary Walhonding Rube Band and by Samuel Scott of West Lafayette, a recent graduate of Kent State University, who sang the Armed Forces Medley. George Clark and Tim Vance performed TAPS, representatives of local service organizations were introduced and military rites were performed by the Coshocton County Honor Guard. Another highlight of the morning event was the attendance of numerous school children from Coshocton and Sacred Heart elementary schools.