Family of fallen Cottage Grove firefighter shares battle with PTSD

COTTAGE GROVE, Wis. — The family of fallen Cottage Grove firefighter Nate Walker hopes his story can help others. Walker took his own life last weekend after a battle with PTSD.

After serving two tours in Afghanistan as a Marine, Walker returned home where he served as a Sun Prairie police officer and later a firefighter in Cottage Grove alongside his wife.

Like many veterans and first responders, Walker struggled with PTSD leading up to his death. In 2019, an average of 17 veterans died by suicide per day. First responders like police officers and firefighters are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty.

“PTSD is a real thing and it’s affecting a lot of people,” said Wisconsin Honor Guard Commander Brent Jones. “His family wants people to know if you’re struggling, don’t struggle alone. Get the help that you need.”

Walker leaves behind his wife and two children. You can donate to the Nate Walker Memorial Fund to support his family and PTSD resources for others.

Obituaries: Nate Walker

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues or considering suicide, there are resources available to help. Calling 988 nationwide will connect you to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. In Dane County, Journey Mental Health Center has a 24/7 suicide prevention hotline at 608-280-2600.