Boot Campaign brings you…Courage Beyond

The statistics may seem bleak; according the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, between 11 and 20 percent of veterans of our most recent military conflicts endure post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) upon returning home. And yet, PTSD is a topic rarely discussed among veterans, their families or in the media. Proactive care through evidence-based treatments, including in-person counseling, can reduce the effects and even heal PTSD, but taking the first step toward recovery proves difficult for many veterans. 

Since 2009, the Boot Campaign has worked to support our country’s heroes through job placement, housing assistance, medical aid and counseling services as part of their commitment to provide military families the care they need and deserve. Part of that initiative includes connecting with like-minded non-profits to further expand wellness options. For the past three years, the Boot Campaign has partnered with Courage Beyond, formerly Not Alone, to spotlight the group’s vast offering of support services and to collaborate on pivotal programs for military families. Together, the organizations have engaged in joint fundraising efforts and awareness events, co-sponsored veteran couples programs and joined forces with the newly-opened Boulder Crest Retreat for military and veteran wellness in Bluemont, Virginia. And like the Boot Campaign, Courage Beyond is working to empower military Americans and their loved ones to find the courage to pursue a healthy and fulfilling life beyond war. 

Post-traumatic stress disorder manifests after a person experiences a highly traumatic event, such as military combat. Reliving the incident, avoiding similar situations, developing negative feelings about oneself or others and feeling overly anxious are all symptoms of PTSD and may become evident shortly after the event or even months to years later. Sufferers may feel increasingly isolated and alone, and many fear treatment will prove ineffective or portray them as weak. Symptoms often worsen over time, and without proper care, will never improve. For these warriors, time just can’t heal all wounds.

Further complicating matters, PTSD not only affects the mental health and wellbeing of service members, it impacts the lives of friends and family members who are most important to them. Parents, spouses, children and friends report feeling frustrated and sad with the changes in their soldier and fear their lives will never return to “normal.” The effects of PTSD can unravel the fabric of even the strongest relationships, but with proper treatment, healing is possible. 

Courage Beyond provides free, confidential programs to military Americans and their family members facing PTSD and other invisible wounds of war. This encompasses current and former military personnel and their loved ones of all active duty and reserve components in all four branches of the armed forces, regardless of discharge status or conflict in which they served. Treatment services include in-person counseling in all 50 states as well as online and in-person support groups and retreats in select areas. 

Jenny Carr, programs director at Courage Beyond, affirms that “evidence-based treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), when implemented alongside an emphasis on strong family relations, financial stability and supportive networks, can heal PTSD.” Counseling by itself is not a cure, but is an important factor in the healing process for those suffering from PTSD as well as from combat stress, secondary trauma, depression and many other behavioral health issues. 

“Depression is a mental illness. It is one that can be cured with medication and counseling, but we should never make the mistake of believing that it will go away if we give it time. Time doesn’t heal all wounds, and continuing to trust that adage can be deadly. I’ve seen Vietnam Vets who have lived in the throes of their PTSD for 50 years who can attest to that. The evidence-based treatments you can get in counseling saves lives. While it may not be necessary for everyone, it is absolutely essential for many individuals suffering from PTSD and other mental health issues. It is our duty to make sure it is available to the men and women who have been thrust into the horror of war to keep us safe,” explains Carr. 

Regardless of location, face-to-face counseling through Courage Beyond’s network of licensed clinical therapists is available at no cost. Trained in military culture, counselors help veterans and their families relieve the symptoms of PTSD and begin to live fuller lives. Fear, anxiety, anger and depression fade, relationships grow stronger and life once again takes on purpose. 

The battle against post-traumatic stress disorder is one waged both internally and externally, but it can be lessened and even won with dedicated care. The Boot Campaign is proud to partner with Courage Beyond as a part of the effort. To find a free, licensed, in-person counselor in your area, please visit www.couragebeyond.org. It’s never too late to being healing and living life again.