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Witness Testimony of Ryan Lundeby, Veteran, Modesto, CA

Members of the Subcommitee:

My name is Ryan Lundeby I served in the Army as an Airborne Ranger. I was stationed at Ft. Benning, Ga with C-Co 3rd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment from 2006 until 2010. While with 3rd Battalion I went on five combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. After I was honorably discharged I moved back to California with my wife.

I found out about the Vet Center from good friend Randall Reyes. When I got out of the Army I did not even know that there was a place for Combat Vets like the Vet Center. After hanging out with the guys at the Vet Center I learned what they were about.

My wife and I went to the Vet Center for marital counseling. I was having difficulty communicating with her. The number of divorces and marital problems among service members is outrageously high. I have had a ridiculous amount of friends get divorce in the military. We were determined to solve our problems. With the help of the Vet Center we learned how to effectively communicate with each other. My wife is my best friend and we have been together for almost three years. I could not be happier.

The most common correlation in suicides is that the victim believes they are alone. No one is ever truly alone. There are always people left mourning the dead. A service member will not seek help unless they know it is confidential. They will refuse help and suffer because they do not want their chain of command finding out. Service members are afraid of the repercussions from their chain of command. The Vet Centers can help because they work in strict confidentiality. Also most of the staff at the Vet Center's are Combat Vets. It is much easier for a service member to talk to someone with a similar background, and can relate to what the service member has been through and is experiencing in their life.

Less than one percent Americans today serve in combat. These brave men and women selflessly risk their lives defending our freedoms. In our history the price of freedom has never been laid on so few shoulders. We owe them more than our thanks. We owe our Combat Veterans every opportunity to readjust to civilian life. With the help of properly staffed Vet Centers we can help our Combat Veterans acclimate to their civilian life.    

Sincerely

Ryan Lundeby