COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A SummerJam Friday night at the Doko Meadows Park Amphitheatre in Blythewood is in support of the Big Red Barn Retreat and the services they provide to our local military members and veterans.
One veteran says the Big Red Barn Retreat has been his saving grace, helping him to overcome his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder after being deployed overseas. Friday's SummerJam will help to ensure the services offered at the BRB can continue helping troops and vets in need of healing.
Midlands veteran and facilitator at the retreat, Daniel Stover, says, "Hey, there's a lot of us out here hurting and nobody wants to say anything because nobody wants that label put on them."
During his time in the Navy from 2000-2004, he was deployed to Iraq.
"We're trained to do things that most people aren't, and we got out on the battlefields and we come back with injuries - some that are visible, some that are invisible. The invisible wounds that we suffer over there, sometimes, are moral."
Stover says vets suffering from PTSD don't always notice the changes in their behavior like, "The snappiness, maybe road-rage, disconnect from the family, isolation."
Even if they do, "There's a lot of misconception that if I go get help, then I'm weak and really it takes more strength and awareness to open up and say, 'hey, I got a problem and I need to get help," says Stover, who eventually sought out help from the Big Red Barn Retreat.
"We have yoga here, we have the garden, we have a huge fishing pond down there with a beautiful pavilion. It's just peaceful. Instead of isolating yourself and feeling alone, I can't emphasize that enough. It's so important for veterans to understand that they have to stay connected in order to cope with this. You cannot do it alone."
Another veteran who utilizes the services at the BRB, Brooks Herring, says he copes with PTSD through "several outlets, some more healthy than others."
Outlets like the work of art on his growing tattoo sleeve, displaying three gravestones for the two friends he lost to war, "and the smaller one's mine because you lose a piece of yourself over there, especially once you lose others," Herring said.
Another healthier outlet is his music, including a song Herring wrote himself about having survivor's guilt.
"I've never felt like I gave [them] enough. I've never felt like I gave as much as I could've," Brooks said.
Brooks performed his song, "Why Me," as the opening act of Friday's SummerJam. Proceeds from the event will go directly to the Big Red Barn Retreat.
For more on the services they offer to local military members and veterans, visit: https://www.thebigredbarnretreat.org/