Published: Nov 14, 2011 4:31 AM EST
Updated: Nov 17, 2011 3:45 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - The family of an Orlando soldier arrested for going "AWOL" is fighting to get him out of jail.

25-year-old Devon Ritchie was getting treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when he was arrested for not returning to his station.

Family says Ritchie was on emergency leave after his mother, Barbie Boynton, suffered a series of strokes. He was due to return to his base in Alaska October 11th.

That day, Boynton got a frantic call from Ritchie's wife.

"She goes, 'He doesn't know who I am, he doesn't know where he's at, and he says he wants to die,'" Boynton says.

Loved ones immediately brought him to a hospital where he was deemed a danger to himself. For the next few weeks he shuffled between psychiatric facilities, while doctors tried to find him long-term treatment.

Tuesday, police came and arrested him for deserting the U.S. Army. As of Sunday night, he was being held in the Orange County Jail on suicide watch. Family says his wife and child have been cut off from military benefits.

Kayce Badger, who grew up with her cousin Ritchie in Lee County, says it is hard to watch him go through mental anguish.

"He's been through -- that I know of -- two explosions. He's watched a couple of his best friends die right in front of him," Badger says. "He's been through a lot over there."

Badger says Ritchie has done two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. She is shocked that after all his sacrifices, he's being punished while trying to get better.

"For him to want help for that, and get charged with going AWOL, it's crazy," Badger says.