Local Marine veteran shares PTSD treatment journey

'You're always thinking about it'

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois - Mark McQuate joined the Marines on a wave of patriotism in 1981. 

He served for four years in Beirut, Lebanon, and Central America, but those years have impacted every day of his life since. 

"There's not a car bomb going off," he said. "You don't have to worry about someone shooting at you from the roof over there, but you're always thinking about it." 

He stayed busy becoming a firefighter and even working on Al Gore's presidential campaign, but something wasn't right. 

It wasn't until after the election in 2000 that it hit him. 

"I didn't have any downtime. I wasn't sleeping I wasn't eating right. I wasn't sleeping. I wasn't eating right and it eventually caught up to me," McQuate said. 

So he began drinking. 

"I knew if I had three to four drinks at night I'd sleep. I wasn't really sleeping," he said.

After his new wife was killed by a drunk driver in 2009, McQuate knew it was time to make a change. He said help was easy to find -- asking for it was the hard part. 

"The individual has to make the choice on what they want to do," he said. "Do they want to be a productive member of society or don't they?"

Eight years later, he's off his medications and focusing on a holistic treatment plan that involves more discussions, acupuncture and a special diet. 

"It's not fixed in a day and to some extent it's not ever fixed," McQuate said. "It's just managed." 

McQuate rediscovered his passion to help others -- the same one that drove him to join the Marines and to become a firefighter. Now it's with his foundation, 1 Marine 1 Life

They fund scholarships for kids who have lost a parent. They also give out free haircuts and collect backpacks for kids in the Rock Island School District.

McQuate started the foundation to help others, but he's realized sometimes it's the other way around. 

"Having one child come up to you and say, 'Thank you.' Yeah, that's therapuetic." 

If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD, you can contact the: 

- Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255

- 24/7 Veteran Combat Call Center: 1-877-927-8387

- Military OneSource: 1-800-342-9647

- Defense Centers of Excellence 24/7 Outreach Center for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury: 1-866-966-1020


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