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Steven Girard struggles with demons from military service

  • Steve Girard watches as his kids play with Charlie, his service dog. front right is Samantha,11, Connor,5, under Charlie is Alida,9,  is Max,10, back left is Tanner,9.

    Steve Girard watches as his kids play with Charlie, his service dog. front right is Samantha,11, Connor,5, under Charlie is Alida,9, is Max,10, back left is Tanner,9. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD while Tanner listens  in their home in Ashfield.<br/><br/>

    Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD while Tanner listens in their home in Ashfield.

    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Samantha Girard,11,  listens as Michelle, her mother talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Steve and his service dog Charlie take a nap in the background.<br/>

    Samantha Girard,11, listens as Michelle, her mother talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Steve and his service dog Charlie take a nap in the background.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Samantha Girard,11,  plays with Charlie while Steve takes a nap in the background.<br/><br/>

    Samantha Girard,11, plays with Charlie while Steve takes a nap in the background.

    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Connor,5, plays in the back ground.

    Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Connor,5, plays in the back ground. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives. <br/>

    Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD.

    Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Purchase photo reprints »

  • Purchase photo reprints »

  • Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Charlie, Steves service dog stretches.

    Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Charlie, Steves service dog stretches. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Top Tanner Girard,9, and Max Girard,10, play with Charlie at their home.  Charlie is Steves service dog.<br/>

    Top Tanner Girard,9, and Max Girard,10, play with Charlie at their home. Charlie is Steves service dog.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD while Tanner walks by in their home in Ashfield.<br/>

    Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD while Tanner walks by in their home in Ashfield.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives.

    Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives. <br/>

    Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Steve Girard shows the reporter the amount of medications he takes a day to try and keep complications with his brain injury and PTSD manageable.<br/>

    Steve Girard shows the reporter the amount of medications he takes a day to try and keep complications with his brain injury and PTSD manageable.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Steve Girard sits in the VA Centers group for those with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD.  Charlie, Girard's service dog calms Girard down, provides space in crowed situations and provides stability when Girard has trouble.

    Steve Girard sits in the VA Centers group for those with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD. Charlie, Girard's service dog calms Girard down, provides space in crowed situations and provides stability when Girard has trouble. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD while Tanner listens  in their home in Ashfield.<br/><br/>

    Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD while Tanner listens in their home in Ashfield.

    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Samantha Girard,11,  listens as Michelle, her mother talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Steve and his service dog Charlie take a nap in the background.<br/>

    Samantha Girard,11, listens as Michelle, her mother talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Steve and his service dog Charlie take a nap in the background.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Purchase photo reprints »

  • Samantha Girard,11,  plays with Charlie while Steve takes a nap in the background.<br/><br/>

    Samantha Girard,11, plays with Charlie while Steve takes a nap in the background.

    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Connor,5, plays in the back ground.

    Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Connor,5, plays in the back ground. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives. <br/>

    Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD.

    Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Purchase photo reprints »

  • Purchase photo reprints »

  • Steve Girard watches as his kids play with Charlie, his service dog. front right is Samantha,11, Connor,5, under Charlie is Alida,9,  is Max,10, back left is Tanner,9.

    Steve Girard watches as his kids play with Charlie, his service dog. front right is Samantha,11, Connor,5, under Charlie is Alida,9, is Max,10, back left is Tanner,9. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Charlie, Steves service dog stretches.

    Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Charlie, Steves service dog stretches. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Top Tanner Girard,9, and Max Girard,10, play with Charlie at their home.  Charlie is Steves service dog.<br/>

    Top Tanner Girard,9, and Max Girard,10, play with Charlie at their home. Charlie is Steves service dog.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD while Tanner walks by in their home in Ashfield.<br/>

    Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD while Tanner walks by in their home in Ashfield.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives.

    Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives. <br/>

    Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Samantha Girard,11,  listens as Michelle, her mother talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Steve and his service dog Charlie take a nap in the background.

    Samantha Girard,11, listens as Michelle, her mother talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Steve and his service dog Charlie take a nap in the background. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Steve Girard shows the reporter the amount of medications he takes a day to try and keep complications with his brain injury and PTSD manageable.<br/>

    Steve Girard shows the reporter the amount of medications he takes a day to try and keep complications with his brain injury and PTSD manageable.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Steve Girard watches as his kids play with Charlie, his service dog. front right is Samantha,11, Connor,5, under Charlie is Alida,9,   Max,10, back left is Tanner,9.

    Steve Girard watches as his kids play with Charlie, his service dog. front right is Samantha,11, Connor,5, under Charlie is Alida,9, Max,10, back left is Tanner,9. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Staff psychologist Scott Cornelius has worked with military veterans for nearly seven years at  the Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System in Leeds, a 25-bed specialized inpatient program for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. The six-week residential program, which opened in 1982, is one of about 30 of its kind at VA’s around the country.<br/>

    Staff psychologist Scott Cornelius has worked with military veterans for nearly seven years at the Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System in Leeds, a 25-bed specialized inpatient program for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. The six-week residential program, which opened in 1982, is one of about 30 of its kind at VA’s around the country.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • <br/>Dr. Scott C. Cornelius, PsyD, at the VA Center in Leeds.<br/>


    Dr. Scott C. Cornelius, PsyD, at the VA Center in Leeds.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Steve Girard sits in the VA Centers group for those with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD.  Charlie, Girard's service dog calms Girard down, provides space in crowed situations and provides stability when Girard has trouble.

    Steve Girard sits in the VA Centers group for those with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD. Charlie, Girard's service dog calms Girard down, provides space in crowed situations and provides stability when Girard has trouble. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD.

    Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Samantha Girard,11,  plays with Charlie while Steve takes a nap in the background.

    Samantha Girard,11, plays with Charlie while Steve takes a nap in the background. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Steve Girard sits in the VA Centers group for those with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD.  Charlie, Girard's service dog calms Girard down, provides space in crowed situations and provides stability when Girard has trouble.

    Steve Girard sits in the VA Centers group for those with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD. Charlie, Girard's service dog calms Girard down, provides space in crowed situations and provides stability when Girard has trouble. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Steve Girard shows the reporter the amount of medications he takes a day to try and keep complications with his brain injury and PTSD manageable.

    Steve Girard shows the reporter the amount of medications he takes a day to try and keep complications with his brain injury and PTSD manageable. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Purchase photo reprints »

  • Steve Girard watches as his kids play with Charlie, his service dog. front right is Samantha,11, Connor,5, under Charlie is Alida,9,  is Max,10, back left is Tanner,9.

    Steve Girard watches as his kids play with Charlie, his service dog. front right is Samantha,11, Connor,5, under Charlie is Alida,9, is Max,10, back left is Tanner,9. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Steve Girard sits in the VA Centers group for those with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD.  Charlie, Girard's service dog calms Girard down, provides space in crowed situations and provides stability when Girard has trouble.

    Steve Girard sits in the VA Centers group for those with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD. Charlie, Girard's service dog calms Girard down, provides space in crowed situations and provides stability when Girard has trouble. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Steve Girard sits in the VA Centers group for those with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD.  Charlie, Girard's service dog calms Girard down, provides space in crowed situations and provides stability when Girard has trouble.

    Steve Girard sits in the VA Centers group for those with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD. Charlie, Girard's service dog calms Girard down, provides space in crowed situations and provides stability when Girard has trouble. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Steve Girard watches as his kids play with Charlie, his service dog. front right is Samantha,11, Connor,5, under Charlie is Alida,9,  is Max,10, back left is Tanner,9.
  • Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD while Tanner listens  in their home in Ashfield.<br/><br/>
  • Samantha Girard,11,  listens as Michelle, her mother talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Steve and his service dog Charlie take a nap in the background.<br/>
  • Samantha Girard,11,  plays with Charlie while Steve takes a nap in the background.<br/><br/>
  • Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Connor,5, plays in the back ground.
  • Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives. <br/>
  • Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD.
  • Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Charlie, Steves service dog stretches.
  • Top Tanner Girard,9, and Max Girard,10, play with Charlie at their home.  Charlie is Steves service dog.<br/>
  • Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD while Tanner walks by in their home in Ashfield.<br/>
  • Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives.
  • Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives. <br/>
  • Steve Girard shows the reporter the amount of medications he takes a day to try and keep complications with his brain injury and PTSD manageable.<br/>
  • Steve Girard sits in the VA Centers group for those with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD.  Charlie, Girard's service dog calms Girard down, provides space in crowed situations and provides stability when Girard has trouble.
  • Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD while Tanner listens  in their home in Ashfield.<br/><br/>
  • Samantha Girard,11,  listens as Michelle, her mother talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Steve and his service dog Charlie take a nap in the background.<br/>
  • Samantha Girard,11,  plays with Charlie while Steve takes a nap in the background.<br/><br/>
  • Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Connor,5, plays in the back ground.
  • Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives. <br/>
  • Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD.
  • Steve Girard watches as his kids play with Charlie, his service dog. front right is Samantha,11, Connor,5, under Charlie is Alida,9,  is Max,10, back left is Tanner,9.
  • Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Charlie, Steves service dog stretches.
  • Top Tanner Girard,9, and Max Girard,10, play with Charlie at their home.  Charlie is Steves service dog.<br/>
  • Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD while Tanner walks by in their home in Ashfield.<br/>
  • Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives.
  • Michelle Girard talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives. <br/>
  • Samantha Girard,11,  listens as Michelle, her mother talks about how Steve's brain injury and PTSD has affected their lives while Steve and his service dog Charlie take a nap in the background.
  • Steve Girard shows the reporter the amount of medications he takes a day to try and keep complications with his brain injury and PTSD manageable.<br/>
  • Steve Girard watches as his kids play with Charlie, his service dog. front right is Samantha,11, Connor,5, under Charlie is Alida,9,   Max,10, back left is Tanner,9.
  • Staff psychologist Scott Cornelius has worked with military veterans for nearly seven years at  the Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System in Leeds, a 25-bed specialized inpatient program for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. The six-week residential program, which opened in 1982, is one of about 30 of its kind at VA’s around the country.<br/>
  • <br/>Dr. Scott C. Cornelius, PsyD, at the VA Center in Leeds.<br/>
  • Steve Girard sits in the VA Centers group for those with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD.  Charlie, Girard's service dog calms Girard down, provides space in crowed situations and provides stability when Girard has trouble.
  • Steve Girard talks about his brain injury and PTSD.
  • Samantha Girard,11,  plays with Charlie while Steve takes a nap in the background.
  • Steve Girard sits in the VA Centers group for those with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD.  Charlie, Girard's service dog calms Girard down, provides space in crowed situations and provides stability when Girard has trouble.
  • Steve Girard shows the reporter the amount of medications he takes a day to try and keep complications with his brain injury and PTSD manageable.
  • Steve Girard watches as his kids play with Charlie, his service dog. front right is Samantha,11, Connor,5, under Charlie is Alida,9,  is Max,10, back left is Tanner,9.
  • Steve Girard sits in the VA Centers group for those with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD.  Charlie, Girard's service dog calms Girard down, provides space in crowed situations and provides stability when Girard has trouble.
  • Steve Girard sits in the VA Centers group for those with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD.  Charlie, Girard's service dog calms Girard down, provides space in crowed situations and provides stability when Girard has trouble.

Early on a fall morning in 2010, Steven Girard drove up the winding road leading to the sprawling campus of the Veterans Affairs medical center in Leeds.

He remembers crying on and off, and his mind was racing. “I just couldn’t function,” he says. “I barely knew where I was, or who I was. I couldn’t make sound decisions about even the simplest things.”

At home, he says, he argued with his wife, Michelle, about everything. He’d lost weight and was barely eating. And, when he did manage to fall asleep, he often woke up with nightmares, seeing the face of a dark-haired little girl.

He remembers sitting in his car for an hour, maybe two, watching the employees of the VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System show up for their morning shifts, turning a question over and over in his mind: Should he go in or leave?

“I finally convinced myself to walk in,” recalls Girard, who had at that time recently started working as a part-time police officer in Chesterfield. For 20 years, on and off between 1980 and 2000, he had been a military police sergeant in the U.S. Army.

Inside, he was given a form to fill out.

The first question asked why he was there.

“I need help,” he wrote.

Since that day, Girard, who lives in Ashfield, has been going through treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, a form of anxiety disorder. It’s not his only challenge — he is, by his own account, also dealing with a complex tangle of physical, emotional and life problems as well.

Girard says his PTSD isn’t about what he calls “shoot ’em up” combat experiences. Mostly, he says, it was sparked by seeing suffering and pain, especially involving children. “It just kept building up and building up,” he said.

In Iraq, it was the memory of a dead child. In Guatemala, it was the sight of crowds of people, hungry and desperate for help. In New Orleans, where he’d gone as a civilian volunteer after Hurricane Katrina, it was the experience of picking up the bodies of those who had perished: “I never cried so much in my life,” he said.

When asked what he was looking for that morning at the VA, he responds: “What I really wanted was for them to take away the pain.”

Girard was admitted to the hospital immediately for evaluation. He went on to spend six weeks in a specialized residential unit for PTSD patients. He began to get counseling and continues to see a therapist and doctors there as an outpatient.

Today, he also attends a weekly support group for veterans. And he has been paired with a service dog that helps him with balance and mobility problems — and with the nightmares and agitation that still sometimes overtake him.

“I don’t know if I would be here today if I hadn’t come in,” said Girard, a lanky 51-year-old, during an interview in the summer. He was sitting in a conference room at the VA after a support group meeting, with his dog, an enormous black-and-white Great Dane named Charlie, at his feet. As he talked, it seemed he was trying to sort out how he had gone from only wanting to help other people to needing help himself. Sometimes, he said, he couldn’t help but feel bitter about how things had turned out.

Holding it together

Girard often brings up his wife, Michelle. She’s the strong one in the family, he says, who remembers what he forgets, whether it’s a name or to take his meds. “She’s really put up with a lot with me,” he says.

On the day he was admitted as an inpatient, Girard called Michelle from the hospital and told her the doctors thought he was suffering from PTSD.

“I had no idea what it was,” she recalls, but she went online and read everything she could.

“It made sense all the way through,” she says — her husband’s anger, the nightmares, his emotional distance — “He never talked about anything and I never pushed” — his sometimes over-the-top protectiveness around the children. Michelle connected online with other spouses of vets with PTSD who remain, she says, her chief support system.

She has had to deal with behavior that, by any measure, is hard to understand.

There was the night, for example, that Steve mentioned having a headache. Later, she went into the bedroom to check on him, only to discover that he wasn’t there.

She jumped into the car, drove to the end of their road and found him standing out on Route 116, dressed in jeans, a T-shirt, a hat and stocking feet.

“I had to keep telling him who I was,” she said. “And he kept saying he was waiting for his people at the checkpoint.” She coaxed him into the car and drove home.

“I can’t fix him,” she says. “There’s nothing I can do. I just kind of have to stand here to hold all the pieces together.”

Called to help

In 1995, Girard served a stint with the U.S. Army’s Joint Special Operations Task Force in northern Iraq, during the hiatus between the first Iraq war and the second. He did maintenance work by day, taking apart vehicles to reuse parts. At night, occasional rattling blasts and explosions hit the compound during fights between Iraqi factions and between Iraqis and Americans. “Nobody knew anybody and everybody hated everybody,” he said.

One night, running away from a close-by explosion from a rocket-propelled grenade, Girard says he slammed hard into a wall. He might have injured his brain then, he says, and not for the only time. Since then, he says, he’s had headaches, seizures, neck pain and problems with balance and mobility that have worsened over time.

But by far his worst moment in Iraq came on a day when he and several other soldiers who were trained divers were sent to the scene of a boat accident. A 3-year-old girl had fallen overboard during a family outing.

“Five of us went down,” he said. “About five or 10 minutes later, we found her hung up on the brush under the water. She was dead.” After cutting away the underbrush, he brought her body to the surface where her parents, hysterical with grief, waited. “We set her on the deck of the boat and showed her to her parents. They went crazy.”

“It affected me so bad, and after that I just turned robotic,” he says. He couldn’t shake the image of the girl’s face under the water or the frustration over how useless he’d felt. The nightmares began about a year later, he said.

After Iraq, Girard was sent to Guatemala to help with security after an earthquake and flooding. One day, assigned to crowd control, he saw throngs of desperate people, including children, trying to scale a fence to get to an overwhelmed medical clinic. The nightmares — the girl’s face, the faces of children in Guatemala — began again.

Again he pushed it away. “I’m a soldier,” he told himself, “I don’t let these things bother me.”

He knows now, he says, that “I was just hiding it.” At the VA, he credits social worker Ted Olejnik with helping him find his way. “If anybody knows me in and out, he’s the one,” says Girard, who continues to see Olejnik twice a week.

He also underwent a form of therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing, or EMDR, specifically around his memories of the young girl who drowned. In EMDR, a patient describes the memory while being exposed to outside stimuli like blinking lights or tapping. The theory is that the distraction “helps the patient overwrite the stored memory with one that has lost its pain and intensity,” according to a 2011 Boston Globe article that described Girard’s case.

He believes the method helped. The memory is less intense, less cutting now, he says: “I still know it happened, but I don’t see her face as much anymore, not every specific detail.”

Group, canine support

At midday Tuesdays, Girard joins about a half-dozen other vets at the VA in a support group for veterans with PTSD and/or traumatic brain injury, facilitated by Heather Morrison, a speech-language pathologist.

The group addresses the kind of cognitive issues veterans with PTSD or brain injuries may face, such as handling emotions and distractions, concentrating on tasks, planning and organizing their time. Coping strategies and mutual support help, Morrison says: “This is a chance for them to be around others who are in the same situation and to learn from each other.”

“I hate groups,” Girard had told Morrison when she suggested he try it out. Since then he’s come around.

With Morrison’s steady, compassionate guidance, the group has become a place where veterans speak candidly with each other, he says, and more: “It’s teaching us to help ourselves and help each other. We’re friends and we all understand what’s going on.”

Charlie, Girard’s canine companion, is a familiar sight at those meetings and around the VA. “Everyone knows Charlie’s name, and nobody knows mine,” Girard jokes.

The two were paired through the Service Dog Project, an Ipswich nonprofit.

“He mellows me out. He seems to know even before I do when I’m angry or cranky and he’ll come sit right with me — sometimes on me,” Girard said.

If he starts thrashing from a nightmare, Charlie nudges him awake. Out in public, Charlie is a buffer between Girard and other people, easing his nervousness. Before Charlie, Girard says, “even when everyone was minding their own business, it would feel like they were all talking to me. I’d be drenched in sweat.”

One day this summer, at a house in Plainfield they were renting at the time, Steve and Michelle kept an eye on the kids as Charlie good-naturedly endured the antics of Samantha, 11, Max, 10, Tanner and Alida, 9, and Connor, 5.

“Charlie senses things before we even do,” Michelle said. “It’s amazing what an animal can do for people who have these wounds that you can’t see.”

The Girards at the moment face an uncertain future. Steve hasn’t worked since his hospitalization in 2010; and Michelle, who had been waitressing, recently lost her job. Girard gets some money in military compensation, he said, but his claim for a higher payment based on disability has been stalled for two years in the VA’s backlog of cases.

“I gave 100 percent to the military,” he says of the long wait, “and now I feel almost forgotten.”

Earlier this fall, their landlord decided to sell the house they’d been renting. With money tight and their options few, they’re now staying with friends who took them in.

“It’s been hard,” Michelle says.

With the VA’s help, her husband says he’s made progress. He realizes that his PTSD might “always be there, but it’s about how I’m going to handle it. I have my wife with me, and Charlie’s always with me.”

He says it’s hard for him to let others see him as he is now, as someone trying to rebuild his life after it all came crashing down.

“I’ve always worked, I’ve always wanted to be a public servant, and I can’t do that anymore,” he said earlier this week. “I still fight the demons every day.”

Suzanne Wilson can be reached at swilson@gazettenet.com.

Online resources

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD
http://www.ptsd.va.gov/

PTSD: Weakness or Wound?
TIME U.S.
http://nation.time.com/2012/05/08/ptsd-weakness-or-wound

Study links PTSD to Hidden Head Injuries Suffered in Combat
University of Rochester Medical Center
http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/index.cfm?id=353

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