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August Hero of the Month: Donald Maloy has made a career of helping other veterans

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DENVER --  Donald Maloy was one of the lucky ones.  He served a decade in the Army.  Went to Iraq, then did two tours with the special forces in Afghanistan.  And somehow, he made it home alive.  So why didn't he feel fortunate?

"I am guilty for surviving when some of the guys that I served with did not come back.  And in talking with other veterans, the thing that I feel like is most common, is that we constantly talk about the people that we could not save," Maloy told FOX 31.

Maybe that survivor's guilt is what drives him to help his fellow soldiers who survived, but still bear the invisible scars of war.

"What happens when we get anxious, or depressed, or what happens when we don’t have our squad or platoon with us afterward?" he said.

Maloy is a readjustment counselor at the Denver Vet Center.  And for his work helping his fellow veterans, FOX 31 has named him the Problem Solvers Serving Those Who Serve "Hero of the Month" for August 2018.

"We specialize in guys who’ve been deployed to a combat area, and military sexual trauma, and cases of bereavement where somebody serving is lost," he said.

It helps that Donald was never your usual soldier.  Before he even went to war, he'd earned a master's degree.  He studied forensic psychology.  Counseling is part of his DNA.  But it's his Army experience that helps him relate so well with the veterans who come here to the Vet Center need.

"It’s a way for that veteran to connect, and I think that connection is such a huge deal.   But hearing that guy talk about ranger school, hear what it’s like to be on post, what it’s like to be deployed, and a lot of clinicians don’t have that story, don’t have that context," he said.

The work he did in the military was important, but the work he's doing now is more crucial now than ever.

"You know, 20 veterans a day are killing themselves, and somebody was asking me whether that was a veteran problem, and an epidemic if you will, and we started talking about it and recognized it’s not just a veteran problem, it’s very much a problem with society as a whole.  We very much are damaged by some of the experiences we have," he said.

Undoing that damage isn't easy.  It might not even be entirely possible.  But Donald and the others at the Denver Vet Center spend every day trying.

For the help he gives veterans, Donald gets a "Hero of the Month" plaque and a $250 Visa gift card from our "Serving Those Who Serve" sponsors, US Mortgages.

To nominate a veteran, active duty service member, family member or volunteer for their service to our country, click the "Hero of the Month" nomination form here.

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