COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A new program designed to help veterans battling post-traumatic stress disorder is on its way to the Midlands after a retreat in Virginia says they've seen high success rates.
The Boulder Crest Retreat in northern Virginia says they have the first non-clinical approach to treating PTSD and now seven locations across the country have been chosen to start similar programs, including in Lexington.
The new program is on its way to the Midlands thanks to the help of three local combat vets, who are also the co-founders of a local veteran's retreat, Range 2.14.
Co-founder Robert Fitzgerald says, "When the veterans go through it they find a new grounding in themselves, they find a new way to approach life."
Another co-founder, Billy Britt, described his experience when he first joined the military.
"Immediately after 911, the attacks, and the towers fell, I joined the Marine Corps."
The third co-founder is Andy Hedlund. All three men say they've seen the effects of PTSD, and for one of them, it's personal.
"I've seen it with all my friends and it's kind of taken a toll on me. I used to be married. I'm no longer married. PTSD took from me everything that I loved," Britt said.
The treatment offered at your typical retreat, they say, provides only a temporary solution.
Britt describes these more traditional facilities as, "What we like to call 'catch and release programs,' which takes a veteran for a weekend – takes him fishing, hunting, camping, whatever – gives that veteran that high. When he comes back down, he has that low again, sometimes worst of when he left."
That's when Range2.14 decided to adopt PATHH or Progressive and Alternative Training for Healing Heroes.
"You're going to a nice environment where you can actually trust that the people that are administering your care are also people that have been in that darkness of PTSD," Fitzgerald said.
The 18-month program is designed to help veterans transform times of deep struggle into strength and growth with instructors who have also gone through the same process.
"It's great for our community because it helps those veterans that are out there – veterans and first responders – that are out there with those hidden wounds that nobody talks about," Lexington Mayor Steven MacDougall said. "We can help them, and we can make their lives better."
"We know way too many people that have not been able to overcome it and still have marriages that fall apart, families that fall apart, drinking, substance abuse. Although the VA is a great resource and a great tool for people to have, a lot of times, it's just not enough. We have way too many veterans that are suffering from PTSD," Fitzgerald said.
According to the Boulder Crest website, after undergoing the PATHH program, veterans report having less stress, depression, and anxiety. Range 2.14 is still in the process of raising funds and finding a location for the PATHH Program in Lexington.
They have a fundraiser coming up in June:
Inaugural Lake Murray Dam Run
- June 23, 2018
- 240 Wing Hill Dr.
- Lexington, SC 29072
- Registration starts at 2 p.m.