ROANOKE, Va. – A multimillion dollar investment in the mental health care of veterans will help more veterans in Virginia and across the country get the help they need.
"When you go off to war, you're not the same person when you come home, and nobody recognizes you when you come back," said Geneo Graves, a 30-year Army veteran who lives in Roanoke. Graves was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury after he retired from military service.
"Everything started falling apart on me mentally," Graves said. "The PTSD kicked in, which I didn't know I had."
Graves said therapy and the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that works to address the needs of wounded veterans and their families, are helping him cope with PTSD.
"This generation of soldiers, we're different. We're not wearing our emotions on our sleeve, a lot of us, we don't want people to know we have problems and we try to hide it so people think we're OK, but we're not OK," Graves said.
Tuesday, WWP announced it will commit $160 million for clinical care and programs to address veterans' mental health care.
"At the end of the day, our goal is to heal the warrior mind, body and spirit and empower them in a path to wellness, recovery and success in the civilian world," said Michael Linnington, chief executive officer of WWP, during an event in New York City.
Numbers from the National Center for PTSD estimate 10-30 percent of veterans have PTSD in a given year or at some point in their life. Studies also show an average of 20 veterans and active duty service members a day commit suicide.
"A lot of people take PTSD lightly and it's not to be taken lightly because you don't know a soldier's, his or her situation or what they've been in," Graves said.
Graves said WWP and its Warrior Care Network have helped him tremendously through intensive therapy, therapeutic bike rides and retreats. He said he now serves as a peer mentor for fellow veterans.
"I know I'm different, but I'm trying to cope and deal with these things, and with the programs they have, they're very helpful," Graves said.
Graves said veterans and their families shouldn't be afraid to look for help.
"Go get the help that you need and don't be afraid to get the help that you need," Graves said. "Speak up about it, and that way you can help other veterans by going out yourself."
Click here for more information about WWP.
WWP said the $160 million investment will help more than 5,000 veterans over five years.