MIRAMAR, Fla. – A family is desperate for answers after a U.S. military veteran was found dead this week.
Miramar police said the body of Winston Antonio Jackson, 27, was found Monday morning in a canal on Utopia Drive, between Coral Boulevard and Di Lido Boulevard.
"It breaks my heart. I loved him like my own child," Jackson's grandmother, Daphne Hibbert, said.
Relatives said Jackson's toughest battle in life wasn't in war-torn Iraq, but with his own mental illness.
Hibbert said she remembers her last conversation with her grandson clearly.
"He said, 'Grandma, thank you for everything. Thank you for giving me a place to stay, food to eat, and I love you.' Those were the last words," Hibbert said.
Loved ones said Jackson spoke little of his deployment with the National Guard, but said combat left an indelible mark on him.
He was diagnosed with schizophrenia after returning to the U.S. and had recently stopped taking his medication, according to relatives.
"I wish he would have told us, so we could help him more, but it was just too late," Jackson's aunt, Brittney Mason, said.
According to Veterans Affairs most recent numbers, 7,403 veterans committed suicide in 2014.
They made up roughly 18 percent of all adult suicides in the country.
About 70 percent of those deaths were veterans who did not seek VA services regularly.
"If I knew he wasn't coming back, I would have never let him go," Hibbert said. "I would have him beside me, I would watch him. I didn't know what was going on in his head."
Authorities said foul play is not suspected in Jackson’s death, but authorities have not yet ruled it a suicide.
The medical examiner's office will determine a cause of death.