Jul 25, 2010 7:36 PM by Matt Stafford

Local vet helping others fight PTSD

These days Antione Johnson spends a lot of time trying to reach out to soldiers. He knows a lot are coming home with issues.

He thinks he can help, but it's all about getting through.

"It's really hard to really break that barrier," says Johnson, who's working to start the Warrior Response Relaxation Center to help soldiers suffering Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and related symptoms

Johnson thinks his background may help him break those barriers. He's a 20-year army vet, serving deployments in the first Gulf War and Bosnia.

"Once you're a soldier, you're always a soldier." Johnson says.

That's why he feels like he needs to help, but his work outside of the military is why he thinks he can.

While coming home and raising a family, Johnson got his Master's degree and began teaching. He worked for ten years, mostly with at-risk high school students, but even with kids as young as Kindergarten.

Jessie Long was one of Johnson's students -- the youngest in fact. He was having trouble in the classroom. But Johnson's cognitive behavior education has brought about some big changes in Jessie that his grandma has seen.

"He still has issues every once and a while, but they're not nearly as bad as they were before." Diana Sisson, Grandma

Given his military background, it's impossible to not notice the growing PTSD problem in the community, but that's where his education world and military worlds collided. Johnson read in several places that cognitive behavior therapy worked with PTSD patients. It got him studying how to apply it.

Simply put, relaxation is an automatic response just like stress. So Johnson explains, where as your stress is triggered by something, you should find triggers for your relaxation. He's trying to find those triggers for local soldiers. He has been so determined to do so that he quit his job to focus on this project full-time.

It was a career change in the middle of some of the toughest economic Johnson has seen in his lifetime, and progress has been slow, but he's seeing his idea take form.

"We're just about there," Johnson can finally say, after a year of trying to get the project rolling.

He's rented office space and hopes to have everything operational by September. However he's not waiting until then to begin, he's making contacts now. Trying reach out as much as he can. He's been setting up booths around the city, trying to meet soldiers and explain how he can help. Johnson knows this is a growing problem that can't wait.  He says he even plans to be on-call 24/7.

Johnson just wants at least one thing back from this work.

"Not to repeat another generation lost."

It's all in an effort to help, and maybe training from his military days is kicking in -- he knows he won't reach them all, but doesn't want to leave anyone behind.

To find out more you can visit the Warrior Relaxation Response Center's website by clicking here.




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