As Memphis and the Mid-South pause to honor our veterans and their sacrifices, many of our brave men and women are still fighting internal battles here on U.S. soil.               

WREG’s Alex Coleman has one soldier’s story of hope and healing those in need, and questions why, as a country, we can’t do more to serve and care for our veterans.

Army Veteran Kevin Ferrell’s life is now about service. Ferrell, 58, has gone from serving his country to a mission of serving his fellow veterans dealing with homelessness, PTSD, and alcoholism as a certified pure recovery specialist.

“Some of these guys feel unappreciated to the point where just existing has become normal, and you have a high percentage of veterans who are homeless that feel that way,” he said.

Every year more than 250,000 Americans transition from active duty to civilian life. Sometimes, that comes with feelings of isolation and loneliness that he knows all about.

Ferrell said at one point, he was doing alcohol and drugs and “being on the wrong side of the law.”

For some, it’s an internal or invisible battle, and one Ferrell says many veterans experience, especially those he’s seen returning home from war.

Even though Ferrell is very pleased those who fought in the Iraq and Afghan wars are treated with admiration and respect in America, he wishes that were the case for all veterans, especially those who fought in Vietnam.

“Right now, there’s a lot of love for the Afghan and Iraqi veterans, but you still have the Vietnam-era veterans that are still unappreciated,” he said.

According to a RAND Corporation study, almost 20 percent of service members who have returned from Afghanistan and Iraq have post-traumatic stress disorder or depression. But only half who need treatment actually seek it.

“I told somebody the saddest thing, people have devoted their lives and pledged their lives to this country and sometimes it feels like they’re not appreciated, and understand that the civil liberties that we come to take for granted, it’s here based on the back of the veterans,” he said.

The Department of Veterans Affairs said each day 17 veterans take their own lives. It’s why Ferrell says when you are fighting a battle where the wounds are invisible, true courage is letting others see you and help you.

“You actually have veterans out here who feel it’s easier to be homeless on the street than ask for help and I can’t help it, America is better than that,” Ferrell said. “It is on a daily basis veterans are out here dying.”

But Ferrell says helping veterans heal from their emotional scars comes with how America views and treats its service members. He says he says through tragedy he saw this country unite after September 11, 2001.

“I once told somebody this, and it’s the most patriotic thing that I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life. The way America was after 9-11, that’s how we should be all the time. The level of unity, comradery and patriotism, and that’s what let me know it’s possible,” he said.

What is possible as told through one soldier’s story of hope to honor our servicemen and women not just on Veterans Day, but on every day for those who answered the call and took the pledge to serve our country.

“It can be more done than just one day or periodic holidays,” Ferrell said. “This country has shown you what they have the capacity to do. We have the capacity to come together. We have the capacity to love each other. It has been done and it can be done again.”