USMC, OIF COMBAT VETERAN
“You’re a new daddy now!” These were the first words that 25-year old Marine veteran Zack’s daughter spoke to him after he began receiving counseling and other help for his post traumatic stress disorder through the PTSD Foundation of America. Although Zack proudly served as a U.S. Marine in Iraq, he returned home and struggled greatly with the horrors of war, creating discord in his family and causing his daughter to fear him.
“When I first got back, I was having pretty bad nightmares. That’s when the drug use started, and it got to the point I didn’t want to sleep anymore. I drank heavily and would start a fight with my wife to have an excuse to go out with my friends and get drunk. It got to the point that my daughter was so afraid of me, she couldn’t be left in the same room with me without it freaking her out.”
Zack says he didn’t want to see the faces of those he had lost in combat, which finally led him to the point of hitting rock bottom. “I found myself in a meth house. Two or three weeks were just an absolute blur to me. I had just watched one of my really good friends overdose.”
That’s when the PTSD Foundation intervened.
“The PTSD Foundation sent someone out, and they just got me. I started attending these weekly meetings and started receiving help.”
The sad reality is that there are thousands of veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan who suffer from the unseen wounds of war. These wounds have led to increasing divorce rates, rising homelessness, and imploding numbers of suicides. The VA says one veteran is lost to suicide every hour of every day. The past three years, the number of suicides by active military and post 9/11 veterans has surpassed the number of military killed in action.
But the PTSD Foundation of America is creating profound change in the lives of veterans like Zack, who now says, “Everything happens for a reason, and I can use those struggles to help other veterans.”
From the meth house to an unquenchable drive to help the next veteran develop a “new normal,” this young Marine has completely turned his life around. But what if the PTSD Foundation of America had not been there in Zack’s darkest hour? How many sweet daughters would have nothing but a folded flag in place of their father?
It takes more than a bumper sticker to support our troops, our veterans, and their families. The PTSD Foundation of America is holding multiple weekly support groups in the Houston area for both veterans and their families while planning and organizing groups in other areas of the country as well. Through these groups, the Foundation has impacted hundreds of lives and seen families transformed.
Camp Hope, the Foundation’s interim housing outreach to veterans and families in crisis, enables families to get off of the streets and experience restoration. Soon, the Foundation will be breaking ground on a 4,400-square foot multi-purpose building that will provide space for daily physical exercise, additional meeting space, and weekly church services.
Additionally, the Foundation is now embedded with the active duty units at Fort Hood, the nation’s largest military base located in Killeen, Texas. The Foundation is helping the commanders alleviate the constant stress load they are under by being a positive presence with the soldiers as well as talking and mentoring to the soldiers and being an outside outlet they can open up to without fear of being labeled as a broken soldier. Two support groups also are being hosted, one on post and one just a few miles off post.