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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — It’s estimated that 21 military veterans die by suicide every day. Tegan Rowley was nearly one of them. But now the Air Force veteran has devoted her life to counseling and helping other veterans feeling that same despair. And that makes her one of our FOX31 Serving Those Who Serve Heroes of the Month.

“It became very clear to me that my purpose was to serve veterans,” Rowley told FOX31.

After injury, helping veterans heal

Rowley was active-duty and serving her country in the Air Force when she suffered a career-ending back injury.

“I ended up not getting the proper care for my back injury until about a year afterward. And in the meantime, experienced really severe depression, suicidality,” she said.

What followed was a feeling of despair that too many veterans can relate to.

“Having that feeling feels like the loneliest, most destitute feeling,” she said.

It’s part of the reason Rowley did a turnaround in life, realizing her true calling was to help veterans heal.

“And then as soon as I found this career in mental health, everything aligned,” Rowley said.

Tegan Rowley
U.S. Air Force veteran Tegan Rowley now dedicates her life to helping veterans overcome mental health struggles. (KDVR)

Giving time to help veteran mental health

Rowley became a counselor and opened her own practice, called Sovereign Soul Counseling in Englewood, and even co-founded her own nonprofit, called the Wounded Healer Project, helping veterans and others in need of mental health care services. The nonprofit is holding a fundraiser later this month, and tickets can be purchased online.

“My experiences in the military can give me a unique way to reach people, whether they’re a veteran or not,” Rowley said.

More than that, she donates her time to other nonprofits. In fact, later this month, she’s volunteering her services for the Foundation 1023 Boots and Badges Gala. The organization provides funding for mental wellness services for first responders in Colorado and Texas.

“That heals the part of me that has experienced pain too,” Rowley said.

Hero of the Month

A hero can be described as someone admired for outstanding achievements and noble qualities. If anyone fits that description, it’s Rowley, which is why we named her one of the FOX31 Serving Those Who Serve Heroes of the Month. She received a plaque from our sponsors, Plumbline Services, Ford and the Leo Hill Charitable Trust.

“You’re gonna make me emotional! I’m not supposed to be emotional. I’m on the other side,” Rowley said when handed the award.

From near-suicide herself to helping others avoid the same mental health struggles, Rowley personifies serving those who serve.

“Thank you. This means a lot,” Rowley said.

To nominate a veteran, active-duty service member, military family member or volunteer for our Hero of the Month honors, visit the nomination page.