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Restoring Hope to Combat Veterans (Part 3)

Restoring Hope to Combat Veterans (Part 3)

Our special suicide
prevention coverage continues with a closer look at
a San Diego based program that is helping combat veterans
transition to civilian life. Members of POW, Pugilistic
Offensive Warrior Tactics say the mix of MMA
and peer support has changed and even
saved their lives. Tech Sergeant Nathan
Perry has more. Personally I’ve had more
friends take their own life than die in combat. And I think that’s the
tragedy right there. I’ve had friends commit suicide. And I think the
reports are 22 a day now for veterans
committing suicide. So I’ve seen it
time and time again. And it’s horrible. It’s unacceptable. The beautiful sunny
beaches of San Diego are a stark contrast to the
darkness and pain many combat veterans suffer when they
return here from war. It’s a completely
different lifestyle. I was even having trouble just
having a basic conversation like we are right now. It’s a completely
different mentality. It’s a different world. It’s a culture shock. Jordan Myers had trouble
adjusting to life after his multiple
tours in Iraq until he found Pugilistic
Offensive Warrior Tactics. There you go. Get off the cage. Get off the fence. Or POW. Nice. A program former
Army Sergeant Todd Vance started to help veterans
make the tough transition to civilian life. So go ahead and spar. But don’t over think it. Does that make sense? One time I took a gun
out of a student’s hand. He was playing Russian
roulette on his couch. And his girlfriend texted me. And so it was 11 or
12 o’clock at night. I left work, and went to
his house, grabbed it. And I held on to the gun for
six months, took him to the VA, and admitted him
there where he was on the mandatory
hold for three days. Keep working. Who’s going to
get the take-down? Suck him out, Johnny. Nice, back up. Vance says POW’s combination
of mixed martial arts, yoga– exhale, stretch– and group therapy gives
vets a physical outlet for their stress. And an emotional support
system with their peers, a void he says the
VA has yet to fill. I mean I’ve taken my students
to the hospital in crisis mode. And they said, OK well
come back in three weeks. They give them a little
lunch bag full of Benadryl and ibuprofen and they say
come back in three weeks when you can schedule
an appointment. That demonstrates the need for
better health care, a better system. Vance combines his competitive
MMA fighting experience, personal training
certifications, and degree in
social work to help students combat
PTSD and addiction. Squatting down,
hands in the middle. As a social worker
I know that’s only going to last so long before it
does become a societal issue. And it’s going to be in
their face with homelessness, and crime, and substance abuse. All these things that if we just
keep shoving them to the side and ignoring it it’s going
to come back to haunt us. And I was infantry
for almost nine years. I went on three deployments. I’ve seen some pretty
messed up stuff. So, yeah I was
struggling for sure. These guys brought me
right out of that rut. I don’t know what I
would’ve done without them. Marine Turk Escalada can relate. He had a near-death
experience on deployment that still haunts him. My experience I’ve
stood on an ID. It was meant for a vehicle. And I got lucky that way. I have nightmares a lot and
just very anxious a lot. Inhale, center, release. In just a few months
since joining POW, Escalada has lost
40 pounds and feels he’s finally living again even
through immeasurable loss. Two weeks ago a buddy of
mine committed suicide. And it was really tough. Because he was kind
of like my mentor and when I was
going through a lot. And it was just– The
first thing I wanted to do was come to class. Because I knew I would
have someone at least I could talk to,
to where they would understand, same kind of thing. A lot of time I get them
at their, quote, unquote, “rock bottom,” where they’re at
a real desperate point in life. And it’s hard for
me to deal with. Because I identify
with them so much. But really they end
up seeing that they can take control
of their own life. And pretty quickly with the peer
support they start to do that. As someone who
struggled with PTSD himself Vance has this advice
for those suffering in silence. Talk to someone, anyone. To get that weight
off your shoulders and not to live in the past. It’s a crutch. When you think
about the military all the time, when you
look back on the glory days you’re not going to be able
to fully enjoy the present. And I would say that
if you can focus on building the future by
enjoying the present that would be the best
thing you can do. Immediate assistance
is available online through Or you can call
800-273-8255 or text 838255. For more information
on the POW program go to their website

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