Local veteran shares what Memorial Day means to him

KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) While many Americans will turn on the grill and celebrate the start of the summer on Monday, for those in our Armed Forces, a wave of emotions is part of the Memorial Day holiday.

Memorial Day is a reminder of the sacrifices that the men and women of our armed forces made and those who served and never made it back home.

“I personally trained and knew some of the soldiers that never made it back,” said Ovi Rivera, outreach director at Cohen Military Family Clinic in Killeen.

Paying the ultimate sacrifice, a reminder to celebrate the real reason for the Memorial Day holiday.

“Remember those because of them, they laid down their life we have the freedoms to do those things. To do those barbecues, to enjoy our three-day weekend,” Rivera said.

He served 22 years in the Army including deployment during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

He’s also been diagnosed with chronic PTSD. An experience he’s now using to help other veterans and their families in need.

“A lot of us know veterans who never made it back and we were faced with certain situations when we were deployed that it crossed our minds that we may never make it back,” Rivera said.

For the local veteran, Memorial Day has a different meaning.

“I had an idea of what it was about but I didn’t understand until I was in those boots and I was deployed, the close calls, the soldiers that were hurt and the ones you get to know and ones never made it back,” he said.

For spouses or family members of fallen soldiers experiencing emotional distress, there is help.

“There is help…right here in the clinic. We provide help, mental health care, evidence-based therapy to veterans and their families,” Rivera said.

The clinic offers many different services to veterans and their families including a weekly session to help deal with symptoms related to PTSD. The PTSD/Trauma group is open to all veterans and their families 18 years and older.