A support group with a motto of “in this family, no one fights alone” started late last year for military, first responders and hospital staff dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder in a very warm, friendly, tolerant and non-judgmental environment.
“We talk about it and read the statistics on the suicide rate. “ Lehigh Acres Combat Support Group Chairman and VFW Commander Mike Slone spoke about groups such as the VFW and the American Legion, which he is affiliated with. “We haven’t done much in the meantime in terms of working directly in our own community. We are the first group other than the VA support group.
Slone said they’ve been grooming the support group for months ahead of its launch in October 2021. The group is designed by people who suffer from post-traumatic stress, people who have had issues since the conflicts they’ve been in. were found, he said, or some that developed problems later.
“They’re the ones who sit on the board. The majority, all but two suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder ”, Slone said of the board. “With these board members there is definitely a voice on what they think is needed. “
The support group is open to anyone with post-traumatic stress disorder who was a member of the military, first responders, and hospital staff. Although the courses are geared towards victims of combat trauma, the same lessons and basic principles can be applied in other areas.
“It’s a support group that tries to support those who suffer from post-traumatic stress physically, emotionally and spiritually” Slone said of the group which mainly offers camaraderie. “It is also open to first responders and hospital staff. There aren’t many alternatives in this area and they are often overlooked as well.
Slone, who also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, said he enjoys the camaraderie of the group.
“It gives you a space to talk about the things you are going through with people who have had a similar experience”, he explained. “They can show both empathy and sympathy, and understand what you’ve been through and how you are feeling. You can talk to counselors and other people, but unless they have similar life experiences, they don’t really understand how it feels.
The growing group meets the first Wednesday of the month at 5 p.m. at VFW, 25 Homestead Road, S ,. and is headed by a chaplain. The January meeting drew 13 people with a class discussing anger management.
“We are strictly a support group. We are not a processing center. We support those who suffer spiritually, physically and emotionally and it means a lot to them ”, Slone said. “The VA is able to treat these disorders from a medical point of view. But sometimes they need more than medical treatment. Much of this comes in the form of an emotional one. We try to be a support group to support our brothers and sisters in terrible suffering. It affects so many facets of your life, especially if it is left unchecked and out of control. “
The group also offers a Veterans Benefits Service Officer, so individuals can get VA services, help keeping their jobs or continuing their education, and a stand-alone Bible study to focus on themselves- same and on God. There are also people available to help with budget finances if someone is in financial difficulty.
“We don’t provide financial support, but we support them in other ways and let them know where things are in the community and where they can keep support for their wants and needs.” Slone said.
The hope is to also plan outings such as fishing trips, mini-golf and kayaking.
A family support group is being added over the next few months to provide support to those dealing with loved ones suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It’s made up of anyone they see as family or support. It doesn’t have to be organic ”, he said.
This branch of the group will start in the coming months after the installation of the instructors.
“They can have two locations, one can also meet at Lehigh and North Fort Myers”, Slone said.
Some of the members of the Combat Trauma Support Group include veterans from Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as other conflicts that have taken place.
Those interested in joining the group can stop by the VFW, 25 Homestead Road, S., or the Lehigh Acres Combat Trauma Support Group office at Lehigh Acres Flea Market, 270 Beth Stacy Blvd. Individuals can also call 239-246-4196 for more information.
“There is no membership fee” Slone said. “It’s just a request and it’s being reviewed. “
Applications are also accepted for the family support group.
VFW and CW Records sponsor the Lehigh Acres Combat Trauma Support Group.