PTSD program uses faith, family to help veterans
Augusta Chronicle - 8/20/2018
Aug. 20--Without Reboot Combat Recovery, James Walker is pretty sure his marriage would have fallen apart.
Walker has served in the military for 27 years and has had seven deployments. He said his wife recommended the program after a friend went through the course. For him, the program made all the difference in his life.
"I can feel in myself that I was changed, that I was getting better, but to see the progression of others and then they see the change in you, it just makes you more committed," Walker said.
Reboot Combat Recovery is a faith-based program that helps veterans, active-duty service members and their families cope with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. What makes it different from other treatment programs, aside from focusing on the soul as well as the mind and body, is that it allows family members to participate and graduate from the course.
"PTSD manifests itself in many different ways -- there's self-isolation from self and family, there's self-medication which can be translated to substance abuse, there's anger management issues," said Jim Whetzel, the administrator and co-leader of the program. "We feel very strongly this affects the entire family, not just the veteran or the returning service member."
To encourage people to participate, the church offers a free dinner before the course, as well as free child care during the program to remove any barriers.
Last year, the course had 11 graduates, and the same number have enrolled this year.
The free 12-week program, held at Christway Christian Church, began the second course last Thursday and will accept new members until the third class.
Each week, the course concentrates on a different aspect of healing. Topics include wounded soul, which focuses on the damage to the soul from trauma, and the cost of unforgiveness, which involves false guilt from situations beyond a person's control.
"It's important to know that Reboot is a course, it's not a support group. There is actual work that these participants need to do," Whetzel said. "They need to participate during class, they need to offer their own insight, and there is an assignment at the end."
That assignment is for participants to write down their stories and share them with the class if they choose. In what Whetzel calls a cathartic moment, they can then shred their stories.
Reboot is not a replacement for any treatment veterans are receiving through Veterans Affairs or the Department of Defense, Whetzel said, but it adds a spiritual element that might help some.
Veteran Steve Tucker, a co-leader of the program, said the course hopes to help veterans and soldiers realize they can still live a life of peace.
"It helps them to deal with (PTSD) more because now they can find the joy in their life," Tucker said. "I don't think you can get rid of PTSD, you just learn to live with it."
Reboot is designed to be led primarily by veterans, and this year, Walker will help with that goal as a mentor to other veterans and service members struggling with PTSD.
"I am getting better," Walker said. "PTSD I don't think you can ever get rid of, but for me with Reboot and building that relationship and learning the tools and techniques along with that, I'm learning how to cope."
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