Anna holds the flag that was draped over Nick's coffin at his memorial service. She and her husband, Michael, <a href="http://longhaul.pro/shrine/">have created a shrine to Nick in their dining room</a>.
Last year, more U.S. service members took their own lives than died in combat. And despite the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan, the pullout in Iraq, and hundreds of new programs designed to help troubled servicemen and women, the number of suicides continues to rise.
After a photo of Lanny Martinson's dog tag was placed on Facebook and elsewhere, Marines and veterans helped track him down. Martinson lost the tag in Vietnam in 1968.
Lanny Martinson was a 23-year-old Marine sergeant in Vietnam when he last held his dog tags. In the 45 years since, he thought they were gone forever, lost in the mad rush to save his life after he and other Marines walked into a minefield.
He'll soon be getting one of those dog tags back, after a network of people worked together to find the tag's owner. When they contacted him, Martinson was just at the point of filing papers to request new dog tags, all these years later.
Daniel K. Omedelena, 71, served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam from 1968-69. A disproportionate number of veterans live in rural, sometimes remote parts of the country, like Wales, Alaska. As the veteran population ages, their health care needs increase, but many have not even filed claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
When he was in Vietnam, Isaac Oxereok's small build made him ideal for tunnel-ratting: running with a pistol and a flashlight into underground passages built by the Viet Cong. In 1967 he finished his tour with the Army and returned home to Wales, Alaska. Oxereok knew he wasn't quite right, but there wasn't anyone around to tell him how to get help.
"Post-traumatic syndrome?" he said. "I went through that I guess, mostly on my own. Some wounds never really show. So inside was kind of messed up."
The Department of Veterans Affairs is being criticized for the shortfall in care for almost a million veterans who can't get timely compensation and have been waiting hundreds of days for help, often to no avail.
Frustration with the agency came to a head last Thursday when VA Secretary Eric Shinseki was called before a closed-door meeting of the House Appropriations Committee.
"We are aggressively executing a plan that we have put together to fix this decades-old problem and eliminate the backlog, as we have indicated, in 2015," Shinseki said after the meeting.