Moving new CNN Special Presentation Explores Hope for Vets Struggling with Post Traumatic Stress
Delon Beckett and Garrett Combs came home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ready to resume the lives of promise they had left behind. For both veterans, within months of coming home, their relationships were crumbling, their children were frightened of their rages, and suicide became a choice they both thought could be a solution for their anguish. Then, a new program that treats post traumatic stress gave them hope. Produced by Soledad O’Brien’s Starfish Media Group in association with MediaStorm, THE WAR COMES HOME, follows the journeys of these two young men who came home from war, and their personal battles to recover from the effects of the wars that came home with them.
The one hour special, THE WAR COMES HOME, debuts Tuesday, Aug. 12 at 9:00pm and will encore at 12:00am, and on Sunday, Aug. 17 at 7:00pm. All times Eastern on CNN/U.S.
“These two strong young men went to war to serve their country, but were overcome by the ravages of war. They have young families that count on them, yet openly told us they wanted to harm themselves. Through the riveting stories of these men – and their families – our hope is that people will understand how truly awful post traumatic stress is, how destructive it is for families, how it robs potential from lives, and how we have it within our power as a society to help these veterans,” O’Brien said.
These two men are not alone. One in five veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffers from post traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, or severe depression, according to a Rand Corporation study. Post traumatic stress is a significant predictor for suicide among all vets. Almost 8,000 veterans of all U.S. wars commit suicide each year, and 22 veterans take their own lives each day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Beckett and Combs are invited to join the tenth group of veterans at an innovative therapy program based in Malibu, CA, called Save a Warrior (www.saveawarrior.org). Founded and led by veteran Jake Clark for veterans suffering with post traumatic stress, the intensive five-day program includes equine therapy, training in transcendental meditation, and physically and emotionally demanding trust exercises.
Along with the other members of their cohort, Beckett and Combs begin to be powerfully transformed as they write down and discuss the experiences that have haunted them. They also begin to rely on each other during grueling sessions that test their physical and emotional limits.
Combs seeks out a therapist during the program and confesses, for the very first time to anyone, that he has been hiding serious suicidal thoughts. Beckett begins to understand how the poverty, neglect, divorce, and alcoholism in his childhood background has exacerbated his post traumatic stress and contributed to his own alcohol dependency and marital difficulties.
Two months following their Save a Warrior course, both men appear remarkably changed as they describe the progress they have made. Though only more time will reveal the program’s success for these two warriors, Combs speaks optimistically about pursuing his career dreams and becoming a better father; Beckett talks about reconnecting with his children and pours the alcohol down the drain that he had grown dependent upon to medicate his pain.
“I do think Save a Warrior did help me get on the track, to… gaining back some genuine compassion, and the genuine drive to … really explore my curiosity with the world. ..I have some faith that… I’ll be able to utilize techniques that I learned as a way of, hopefully, being able to heal some damage that was done. But…time will tell,” says Combs in the film.
About Starfish Media Group
Starfish Media Group is an integrated media production company and distributor, dedicated to uncovering and producing empowering stories. SMG takes a challenging look at often divisive issues of race, class, wealth, opportunity, poverty through personal stories. Founded by award-winning journalist and multifaceted broadcaster Soledad O’Brien, Starfish Media Group uniquely resonates with today’s diverse global audience through impactful topics that define our time.
CNN Worldwide is a portfolio of two dozen news and information services across cable, satellite, radio, wireless devices and the Internet in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. Domestically, CNN reaches more individuals on television, the web and mobile devices than any other cable TV news organization in the United States; internationally, CNN is the most widely distributed news channel reaching more than 271 million households abroad; and CNN Digital is a top network for online news, mobile news and social media. Additionally, CNN Newsource is the world’s most extensively utilized news service partnering with hundreds of local and international news organizations around the world. CNN is division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner Company.