Special Segment: Hope and Help for Veterans

December 15, 2010 4:58:13 AM PST
Service members returning home this holiday season, especially from Iraq and Afghanistan - may notice messages on billboards and bus stops. The Department of Veteran Affairs is reaching out to try to prevent suicide and help those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Throughout Chicagoland, there is a push to help all veterans and men and women in uniform, especially those with PTSD. ABC 7 took a hopeful look at ways veterans and others are helping military members who need it most.

Brent Lewis is a Naperville restaurant manager and a Marine who served in Iraq seven years ago.

"I lost Marines ... it's hard to move on from that be positive with that," said Lewis.

He returned home with PTSD. In Naperville, loud noises made him duck behind corners and some odors triggered thoughts of the war. And then he met Dr. Laura Bokar.

"Brent was ready," said Dr. Bokar.

Dr. Bokar, who practices rapid resolution therapy, says rather than just listen, the therapist guides the process.

"It's a whole different focus, and again, the therapist is responsible. It's effect driven. That is what we're going to do, this is how we're going to do it, and this is where I'm going to get you. You don't have to think about how we're going to get there - that's my job," said Dr. Bokar.

For others, there is the spiritual approach. Sister Linda McClenahan, a decorated Vietnam vet and PTSD survivor, lived the pain of war.

"I lost God in Vietnam, completely. I didn't believe in God anymore. I was angry," said Sister McClenahan.

Now, Sister McClenahan, also known as Sister Sarge, leads free spiritual retreats for all vets living with PTSD. It's part of Mayslake Ministries in Lombard.

"It's very important we have a safe space. And by safe I mean a non-judgmental, non-threatening and a caring environment," said Sister Sarge.

August Sisco, a fellow Vietnam vet, signed up to help Sister Sarge, and discovered help for himself.

"I got rid of some baggage, and I understand some things a little better," said Sisco.

And he understands there is help.

Michael Griffin, an Army sergeant who was shot in Iraq, strongly encourages vets to attend group therapy at the Hines VA.

"The war is not over even though you're home ... you need to come back. We had your back in Iraq and your back in Afghanistan ... we'll have your back here," said Griffin.

Griffin and fellow vets, like Afghanistan war veteran Michael Johnson, who has a service dog, have one goal.

"We help each other," said Johnson.

There is help and hope for all veterans, including Brent Lewis, who honors the death of his fallen comrades by living.

"If I can continue to live my life in an honorable, respectful way. Then I live for them," said Lewis.

Mayslake Ministries
www.mayslakeministries.org/veterans_ministry.php

Rapid resolution therapy - Dr. Laura Bokar
www.fvinstitute.com

Edward Hines, Jr. VA hospital
www.hines.va.gov


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