Kentucky soldier's suicide prompts family to take action

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB)---Days after a Kentucky soldier commits suicide, his family starts a national petition after they say he didn't get the help he needed.

The petition is named after 25-year-old Cody Baker, from Breckinridge County.

At 25-years old, Cody Baker had a smile that family members say would light up a room.

Behind the smile, they say he was fighting a major battle within.

"He didn't want them to know the stuff that he had seen or the nightmares that he had," says Laci Baker, Cody's wife.

He served in the Army for several years and was a truck driver during his time in Iraq.

"We picked up and bagged the remains of four soldiers after a massive IED explosion. Blood-covered radios and mangled weapons," Laci Baker says, reading words that her husband once wrote when he went to a VA HealthCare Center to get help.

Baker's family says he was denied disability at the Louisville VA Medical Center, and before that, didn't get the help he needed at the Clarkson VA.

"He started describing what he was going through and said the therapist had a blank stare and it just set him off. He said he got up and walked out. That should not have been allowed to happen," Laci Baker says.

Cody Baker recently committed suicide.

His mother has started a petition on the White House website, calling for change.

His family is asking that soldiers not be denied assistance. They believe mental health treatment should also be mandatory for everyone coming home from war.

Retired Army Chaplain, Paul Crecelius, says in the past there was a stigma that surrounded getting help.

"If you go get help, then there's something wrong with you or you're weak, or it will hurt your career," says Paul Crecelius, a retired US Army Chaplain.  

He now works with people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and says reaching out for help is a major step.

"Because we don't see ourselves as well as other people see us, and there's nothing wrong with going to get some help," says Paul Crecelius.

For Laci Baker, she says, her husband tried to do just that. She now plans to work with other family members to raise awareness about 'Cody's Cause'.

"If somebody is reaching out to them with post-traumatic, that is not something that can be shoved to the back burner. Obviously in this situation it was a life or death situation. It was too much to deal with," says Laci Baker.

A spokeswoman with the VA Hospital in Louisville says Cody Baker was a patient, and was last seen in January 2012.

She could not talk about the case further because of privacy laws, but says thoughts and prayers are with the Baker family.

To see the petition that the family of Cody Baker has started, click here.

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