KINGMAN - Two veterans organizations are stepping forward to help the many veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan recover from their experiences with a little sports therapy.
The Arizona Marine Corps League and the Military Order of the Devil Dogs want to build a $55,000 outdoor multi-sport area with facilities for basketball, tennis, badminton, paddleball, volleyball, racquetball, shuffleboard and handball at the U.S. Veterans Affairs hospital in Prescott. The plans also include a pavilion with seating for spectators and the facility will be fully accessible to those with disabilities.
"We want to provide a place there for veterans to gather and talk," said Benjamin Leith, a member of both the Copper State Detachment and the Devil Dogs.
The Devil Dogs are an honor organization of the U.S. Marine Corps League and both organizations are well-known for their community service, fundraising efforts and assistance to veterans.
The mental welfare of the returning troops is one of the main concerns of the Devil Dogs and the Copper State Detachment, Leith said.
Friends, family and therapists can all be a great help to veterans recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder, but there are some experiences that veterans can't speak about to friends and family, he said. In those cases, many veterans find it easier to speak with another veteran.
The organizations are hoping that a sports facility where soldiers can meet and play various games will give them the chance to reach out to each other.
The two organizations have created a nonprofit organization in order to raise funds for the project.
According to Leith, they have raised more than $27,000 through yard sales, raffles and donations from individuals, corporations and businesses. A number of businesses have also offered labor and materials to build the sports facility.
The organizations are hoping to start construction on the facility before the end of the year, but they need to collect another $28,000.
To donate money, materials or labor to the effort, contact Ben Leith at (928) 757-5661 or Bob Wallace at (928) 237-9358.
The number of troops returning home with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder is increasing. According to the VA's National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anyone can suffer from the disorder at any age. It's usually triggered by an event, such as a severe car accident or the shocking death of a fellow solider. It's an event that a person has no control over and that puts their life or the life of another in danger.
The symptoms of PTSD include constantly reliving the event, avoiding situations that remind the person of the event, feeling numb about life or feeling constantly on edge. The symptoms can show up shortly after the event or many months after the event. They can disappear after few months or linger on and off for years. According to the center, many people experience these symptoms after a tragic event. What makes PTSD different is that the symptoms linger for weeks after the event and are severe enough to disrupt someone's daily life.
The exact number of U.S. military men and women suffering from PTSD is unknown because many soldiers don't seek treatment, according to the center.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 70,000 cases of PTSD have been recorded in troops returning home from serving overseas since 2003. The U.S. has deployed more than 2 million soldiers overseas since 2001.