At his last event, Joe (right) learned about Warrior Care Network® and how it helps warriors.
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (June 8, 2017) – People-watching is a way to pass the time and enjoy your surroundings, whether it be at a shopping center, park, or busy city sidewalk. For Marine Corps veteran Joe Merritt, it triggered too many reactions.
“I would position myself against a wall or as close to it as possible,” Joe said. “I was on alert, scanning the crowd for nonexistent threats. I was uncomfortable.”
Joe lived with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for at least a decade before he decided to get clinical help. Almost immediately, he started seeing results, and so did family and friends around him.
Joe connected with Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) shortly after he left the service. He enjoyed the camaraderie at events like Soldier Ride®, hunting and fishing outings, and WWP’s multi-day mental health rehabilitative workshops. At his last event, Joe learned about Warrior Care Network® and how it helps warriors.
Warrior Care Network is an innovative partnership between WWP, four top academic medical centers (Emory Healthcare Veterans Program; the Road Home Program at Rush University Medical Center; Operation Mend at UCLA Health; and Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Program), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Through this collaboration, Warrior Care Network provides up to a year’s worth of therapy in two- to three-week intensive outpatient programs. Joe received treatment at Emory Healthcare Veterans Program in Atlanta.
“It was like a rebuilding,” Joe said. “I talked about specific traumas in detail I had never shared before. Prolonged exposure therapy drew out raw, primal emotions; I remembered things I had not recalled in a long time.”
During treatment, a clinical expert works to get to the root of traumatic experiences.
“It was the hardest thing emotionally I have ever done. Mentally and emotionally exhausting. It took a lot out of me, in a good way.”
Joe has bested challenges before. He earned his second college degree last December, after a cracked skull during a motorcycle accident took away his ability to work. It was his second traumatic brain injury (TBI). Joe said he took psychology classes to better understand himself and what other veterans are dealing with.
Now Joe has the chance to mentor to other warriors at an upcoming WWP event.
Joe (far right) said he has noticed a different level of calmness in himself.
“I plan to make sure they know about the benefits of Warrior Care Network.”
As part of Joe’s recovery at Emory’s Veterans Program, he experienced in vivo exposure therapy. He went to Midtown Atlanta, a busy part of town, for lunch on several occasions.
“I had to take in the sights without scanning or walking along the side of buildings – things I typically do for my comfort. The first couple times created anxiety, but I got more and more comfortable with each visit.”
Joe also visited the Georgia Aquarium, a bustling tourist destination.
“That was emotional, but on a good level. I also spent a day in very crowded Piedmont Park, just enjoying watching other people.”
Joe said he has noticed a different level of calmness in himself; so has his wife.
“I have gotten upset, but not like I used to. I can feel a difference in my thinking. I attribute a lot of that to Warrior Care Network and Emory.”
Now Joe has another goal in mind.
“I have not been able to see a fireworks display in more than a decade. I plan to change that this Independence Day.”
To learn and see more about how WWP’s programs and services connect, serve, and empower wounded warriors, visit https://newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org/.
Contact: Rob Louis – Public Relations
About Wounded Warrior Project
Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) connects, serves, and empowers wounded warriors. Read more at https://newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org.