US Army veteran Stephen Meyers walked through 20 states to bring awareness to PTSD – he named his endeavor “PTSD-Walk.” On Tuesday, he reached Jacksonville, Florida after walking 2,000 miles from Kansas City, Missouri. Along the way, he engaged with veterans and many others who would talk about their difficulties with Post Traumatic Stress.
Meyers, an Army veteran, first realized he was suffering from PTSD in 2007 about a week after his final Iraq deployment. He also went through a series of personal tragedies when he lost several family members, including his wife Jessica, who died of colon cancer.
Meyers had suicidal thoughts but decided to seek help. Meyers has been accepting donations to pay for his journey across America to raise awareness. He said any money left over would be donated to a non-profit.
He offers the following advice to those struggling with PTSD:
Share your mental victories. Share coping skills and wellness strategies. Talk about your battles with anxiety. Talk about how you dealt with stress. Tell someone ‘I believe in you.’ Talk about when you asked for help.WJCT
When Stephen Meyers arrived in Jacksonville, he was asked to be on The Morning Show with Bruce Hamilton on News4Jax.
Once started, the interview went smoothly. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to spread awareness of post-traumatic stress. Too many of our people suffer in silence. They are not beyond redemption. They have not messed up their life so badly that nobody can help them. We all struggle in life. Every single one of us. There’s a reason my map has the words “You are not alone” in big letters. There’s a reason my backpack has a sign that reads “Believe in you.”
I began the PTSD Walk with the goal of starting a conversation. That’s my measure of success.Stephen Meyers (Facebook)
In actual fact, his true “measure of success” is overcoming what he’s been through. Meyers has not had an easy time of it. The following is an excerpt taken from his story on PTSD-walk.com.
He retired from the United States Army in 2016 as a SFC/E-7 after serving 22 years. He deployed 7 times to Imminent Danger Pay Areas (Bosnia 1996-1997, Turkey 2003, Qatar 2005, Iraq 2005, 2006-2007, Egypt 2011-12, Afghanistan 2013) During his first deployment in 1996 he contracted Tuberculosis in Bosnia-Herzegovina and had to be treated twice to make sure it was gone. Events from the 2006-2007 Iraq deployment deeply troubled him. Back then, it was common knowledge that if you sought mental health treatment, your security clearance would be in jeopardy. So, Soldiers like Steve suffered in silence. He held a TOP SECRET clearance from 1999-2016.
In 2008 the U.S. Army changed the security clearance policy, allowing Soldiers with mental health issues to receive care without losing their job. Steve used the opportunity and sought help on 26 March 2008. His trust was betrayed and he refused to seek help again.
30 January 2015, Steve got help for his mental health for the first time at a Veteran’s Center after his girlfriend Vicki kept urging him to get help. If he had received help when he first sought it, his PTSD would likely be a shadow of the past by now.Steve’s Story on PTSD-Walk
Long walks such as Steve’s are therapeutic for PTSD sufferers. The long term plans are extremely important for all who suffer from the issue. There are treatments available for veterans, and if you need help from the “ghosts of war” please seek out a program or even a person who can assist you. Our veterans are important to the fabric of America, and we care. As Steve’s message on his website states, “You are not alone.”
Featured photo: Stephen Meyers reached Florida screenshot via Instagram
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