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Mike Opelka

This tireless veteran is raising awareness of vet suicides and PTSD in a new way

KatarzynaBialasiewicz/ Getty Images

Twenty-two military veterans take their lives in the United States every day, and Army vet Ernesto Rodriguez says he is not going to rest until everyone knows and the tragedy ends. He walked 2200 miles from Tennessee to the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California, and he is selling t-shirts to raise funds, as well as awareness, for a homeless veterans’ shelter in Arizona.

Now, Rodriguez is making the movie “Tango Down,” with actress Julia Ling of cult favorites “Chuck” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer." The film is being made entirely with veterans in the cast and on the crew. It will feature realistic battle in addition to the internal battle with what he calls “moral injury.”

He told Mike Opelka on Monday's "Pure Opelka" that some decisions made in the field lead to depression, sometimes sliding into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Both mental health challenges can result in suicide for veterans who do receive adequate care.

Rodriguez noted that Hollywood typically shies away from suicide, but he hopes the film, which will be submitted to film festivals like Sundance, will help viewers to "communicate openly" about this devastating subject.

To see more from Mike, visit his channel on TheBlaze and listen live to “Pure Opelka” weekdays 7–10 p.m. ET & Saturdays 6–9 a.m. ET, only on TheBlaze Radio Network.

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