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UPDATE: The Next Mission: Faith-Based Non-Profit Helps Vets Battle PTSD

UPDATE: The Next Mission: Faith-Based Non-Profit Helps Vets Battle PTSD Read Transcript


AMBER STRONG: Lyn Balfour's story is all too common--

27 years with the US Army, a bronze star recipient,

mission after mission, tour after tour.

My first deployment was Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

And then I had a couple of tours in Bosnia.

And then I deployed in Iraq.

AMBER STRONG: A soldier's soldier,

until her last tour in Iraq--

that's when something happened.

Someone broke into my room and sexually assaulted me.

AMBER STRONG: She returned to the States

and didn't tell a soul, not her superiors, not even

her husband.

In June of 2006, my husband and I

had a baby boy, a gorgeous, beautiful, beautiful baby boy.

His name was Bryce.

AMBER STRONG: So her life went on.

Balfour took a job, began raising baby Bryce,

and tried to ignore the nagging presence of anxiety

and depression.

And she needed a regular routine in her life

to keep things going and on the same regular basis, which

helped her to avoid stress.

But things took a devastating turn

when a break in her normal routine

led to tragic consequences.

My routine that week was out of character

and out of routine.

And I was in a stressful situation.

I drove right past where I would make a left drop

my son off at daycare.

When I got to work, I went into work.

And I had made a stop that morning

and dropped my husband off at work,

which wasn't normal, because his car was in the shop.

So I'm like, baby's dropped off.

We're good to go.

Later on that day, I got a phone call

from the home care provider, asking me how Bryce was doing.

And I said, I don't understand what you mean?

I immediately ran to the car, and that's

where I found my son.

(ON PHONE RECORDING) Oh, my god, no!

Please no.

Please no.

AMBER STRONG: Even though it was only 66 degrees that March day,

the temperature inside the car was hot enough to kill,

and baby Bryce had died.

Balfour was tried and later cleared of second-degree murder

charges.

After the trial, she visited a doctor

and figured out the one thing that

was causing her depression, anxiety,

and led to her constant need for a regular routine

to avoid stress.

She was diagnosed with severe complex post-traumatic stress

disorder, something she apparently had been battling

since her return from Iraq.

She says that PTSD led to her inability

to deal with the stress caused by the break

in her regular routine.

PTSD-- four letters that have changed the lives

of our nation's veterans.

PTSD affects each person differently.

For some, it's anxiety or a lack of interest.

For others, it's a need for routine, forgetfulness, even

suicidal thoughts.

We're seeing every 65 minutes a veteran take their own life.

AMBER STRONG: Robert Vicci is a retired lieutenant colonel

for the Army National Guard and the CEO

of Vet Rest, a faith-based nonprofit helping

to treat the effects of the disorder that

claimed so many lives.

We're not a nine to five.

Our phones rings, and our coaches and counselors

answer their phones when it rings.

AMBER STRONG: In addition to counseling,

he also uses faith as a means of healing.

A veteran dealing with PTS is due

to an emotional state or an emotional feeling,

an emotion of grief or solitude--

why me?

Why them?

Why not me?

And Ron Vicci, as a coach, cannot offer that veteran

absolution.

You have to find absolution through the Lord, through God.

AMBER STRONG: But Vet Rest and other groups

like it can't help so many vets alone.

Veteran Affairs Secretary Dr. David Shulkin

said he is "working to overturn the regulations that

let certain vets slip through the cracks."

10% to 15% of active service members who leave the service

leave with an other-than-honorable discharge.

That leaves them without benefits.

That's why I made the decision to offer those veterans

emergency mental health services.

AMBER STRONG: The Trump administration

says it's cracking down on dysfunction at the VA,

and that veteran suicide is its top clinical priority.

In June, President Trump signed the VA accountability

and Whistleblower Protection Act,

which cuts through the red tape and makes it easier

to get rid of bad employees at the VA.

In the meantime, groups like Vet Rest

will continue to fill the gaps.

Balfour is now a chapter director for Vet Rest.

They say that God doesn't give us more than we can handle.

And boy, I think if that's the case,

He thinks that I am the strongest person

on the face of this earth.

But I think that we go through the experiences

that we do to become teachers.

AMBER STRONG: And she's made it her new mission

to warn parents about the dangers of hot cars

and to warn the world about the effects of PTSD.

Amber C. Strong for CBN News in Washington.

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