Social media bridging gap between troubled vets and treatment

By Matthew M. Burke
Stars and Stripes
Published: September 23, 2011
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Marine Cpl. J.P. Villont returned from Iraq a broken man.
The married father of four was angry, paranoid, hyper-vigilant, aggressive and withdrawn — telltale signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Yet, for seven years, the former Marine was reluctant to seek help.
“Obviously I had PTSD and it was undiagnosed,” Villont, 40, said recently from his Phoenix home. “It’s a huge stigma, so I didn’t want to find that out. I pretended I didn’t have it for many years.”
Then, following a couple of violent outbursts, Villont finally contacted a few veterans facilities in Arizona. He was told he would have to wait months for treatment.
With seemingly nowhere to turn, his wife, Lisa, starting posting messages on the Wounded Warrior Project’s Facebook page.
“Its been over 7 years since my husband returned home from Iraq, just last week he finally decided to seek help for what we assume will be diagnosed as PTSD,” she wrote.
Her words caught the attention of Jennifer Boyce, social media manager for the Wounded Warrior Project, who provided the Villonts with people who could help immediately.
“It sounds like your family is tackling many challenges together,” Boyce wrote. “I wanted to let you know that Wounded Warrior Project is here as a resource to help. ... I would love to put you in touch with the director of our Combat Stress Recovery Program.”
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