ERIE, Pa. — James Klawuhn has been serving his country for 10 years.
First, active army and now the National Guard. After touring in Kuwait in 2000, he returned home scarred.
“When I left active duty, talking about (post-traumatic stress disorder) or anything like that, the army was trying to throw you in the padded room,” Klawuhn said.
That recently changed when Klawuhn reached out to Boots on Ground.
“They try to do everything they can for vets,” Klawuhn said. “They have an exercise room, they have a room for us just to sit and talk.”
The organization helps veterans and families in need, addressing suicide prevention and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Since coming to Boots on Ground less than two months ago, Klawuhn is learning new ways to relax.
“To be honest, I didn’t know a whole lot about aromatherapy, and having it in the background does help bring down tensions,” he said.
Similarly, Kathryn Knight is finding ways to heal.
“It is hard for us, as well, and you shouldn’t feel guilty,” Knight said.
Knight is the spouse of a veteran and before she and her husband, Joe, could tie the knot in April, they had to seek help.
“You’re in completely different, new territory between just addressing your husband when he’s having a bad day to addressing your husband when he’s having a flashback from his PTSD,” Knight said.
Knight’s husband served a nine-month tour in Iraq before returning home in 2010 with traumatic brain injury and PTSD.
“It saved our marriage,” Knight said. “It saved my husband’s life.”
But it starts by seeking help.
“There’s never any judgment passed here at all because a lot of us have been through a lot and we know its hard,” Klawuhn said. “And it takes a lot to come forward to get help.”