A decorated Army combat veteran and his wife are employing the hard lessons they have learned in order to help veterans cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and find healing.
Tom Satterly spent 25 years in the U.S. Army, serving 20 of those years in special operations. He was part of Operation Gothic Serpent in Somalia in 1993 and is portrayed in the Ridley Scott film, “Black Hawk Down.” He served in Delta Force and retired as a Command Sergeant Major, having earned five Bronze Stars – two of them for valor.
Satterly has PTSD himself and has made it his mission to help others suffering from the same debilitating effects of the disorder. Along with his wife, Jen, the two started a non-profit foundation called the All Secure Foundation.
In a phone interview with Fox News Digital, Satterly recalled the time he was seconds away from taking in his own life, a moment he recounted in his 2019 book, “All Secure.”
He described sitting alone in a rental car in a parking lot with a gun in his hand while “shaking, cold and covered in sweat.”
“I wasn’t going to leave a note,” he wrote.
“‘My last act of selfishness. I figured no one cared anyway. If I felt bad about something, it was [for potentially] making a mess for the rental car company to have to clean up.”
He continued, “It was time to get it over with. But just then, there was a buzzing on my cell phone letting me know I had a text message. I glanced at the phone. It was from Jen.”
“If there was anyone in my life at that time who could have pulled me back from the brink, it was Jen,” wrote Satterly. “I was drowning and while part of me wanted to let go and end the suffering, another part of me reached for the lifeline she tossed.”
Among the hundreds of missions under his belt, Satterly is certain his struggle with PTSD began when he was called in to secure a perimeter after Somali rebels shot down two Army Blackhawk helicopters during the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu.
“That ended up being the longest sustained firefight since the Vietnam War,” he told the outlet.
He said, “Everything changed. Everything changed … We went on foot to the crash site … And that’s when they pinned us … That feeling of being trapped, and you just want to go home, like — I just want this to be over.”
“That’s when you realize that this is real combat,” Tom Satterly said. “You can’t go home … They want you dead, right there. If you can imagine thousands of people who want you dead … It’s just the most horrifying thing you’ve ever been through.”
Today, he is still working to overcome the trauma he endured and is helping veterans and their families along the way.
“We try to tell the veterans now who are struggling, ‘The length of time you wait to get help is how long you’ll suffer.’ We’ve talked to people who fought at the Battle of the Bulge — they’ve suffered all this time. Their grandkids say, ‘He’s never talked about what he went through.'”
Satterly added, “We want to break this stigma and get people the help they need, no matter what they’ve gone through.”
Jen Satterly explained to Fox News Digital, “We explain to people that PTSD is an injury — and the injury won’t heal on its own. It doesn’t go away on its own. Rather, the longer you wait to get help, the worse it gets with time.”
She continued, “You might have an active-duty member who is already showing the signs and symptoms of PTS because it happens at the moment of the trauma, not after. It is a completely false narrative that, ‘Oh, I’ll get it when I get out’ or ‘It’ll hit me when I get out.’ No. It is tearing apart our active duty [military] today,” she emphasized.
“Suicides have tripled in special operations every year since 2017,” she added. “The divorce rate is anywhere between 40 percent to 95 percent, depending on the unit and the rank and the amount of deployments.”
“The suicide rate in children who have a combat parent with PTS and also the suicide rate for spouses are much higher than in the civilian population.”
“So the war comes home with people,” she added, “whether they want it to or not. And not only are we dealing with soldiers who have complex PTS, but families who suffer” from it as well.
The Satterlys host couples retreats and travel to various posts and bases to speak directly with active-duty members and their families. Additionally, they offer daily coaching and motivational outreach via the internet or phone, all of which is done with the support of professional therapists.
The couple intimated the military writ large is lacking in programs and support for those afflicted with PTSD.
“Think of all the preventative measures the military takes on so many other issues, with weapons, with vehicles, with all of the equipment,” said Tom Satterly. “The idea is to keep these things running better so they don’t break, and so they last longer.”
Why, he asked, “don’t they teach people that about their mental health, their relationships and themselves?”
“The amount of confusion and frustration is intense — nobody really knows where to get the help, or who to call,” Jen Satterly added.
Jen Satterly concluded, “These are people who were trained for combat. Trained to get a job done. Now they need to be trained to cope with it — to come back home and live with their spouse and kids.”
“There’s help, there’s hope, there’s healing — and we are here to help people get to the other side,” she said.
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