Group helps veterans overcome PTSD struggles

They fought to protect our country. Now some military veterans are hoping to win a battle within.

A local program is helping many conquer their personal struggles. It's called "Healing Warrior Hearts". TODAY'S TMJ4 got a close-up look at how the organization is giving veterans suffering from PTSD their lives back.

During the powerful session, members drew pictures of their hurting hearts as gentle music played in the background. It was a class for victims of military sexual abuse. Family members and supporters were also allowed.

Patricia Clason founded Healing Warrior Hearts, a non-profit group dedicating to helping those suffering from PTSD. Clason explains, "It changes a person it changes them deep inside. In order to find a sense of safety again, and open their hearts again, and not be in fear every day, requires the love of a lot of people to make that happen."

One of the participants was Air Force Veteran Johni Baxter. She says she felt lost and alone after being raped while serving overseas.

Baxter adds, "The hardest part was wondering who I could trust to talk about it."

TODAY'S TMJ4's cameras filmed a role-playing session where Johni confronts her perpetrator.   During the exercise, Johni exclaimed, "I am your sister in the Air Force, how could you just do that to me?"

A fellow group member pretends to be an attacker, while instructor Patricia Clason urges Johni not to hold back. Clason commands, "Allow yourself to feel the sadness and the outrage you felt!  What do you want him to know?"

Baxter answers "You have no right to treat people like that." 

Clason again coaches Baxter saying, "Call up the rage over the violation."

Baxter answers, "No, get away from me". Get out of my room!...Get out of my room right now!"

After several moments in a dark and raw place, something almost magical happens, You can see Johni's relief. Johni sobs, "I never got to do that!"

Suddenly her anxiety is lifted, and Johni is comforted, and even smiles. Baxter shares, "Healing Warrior Hearts has given me a sense of purpose and direction in my life."

Through this journey of despair torment turns to peace - a personal battle is won.  For more information about Healing Warrior Hearts go to healingwarriorhearts.org.

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