By U.S. ArmyOctober 5, 2016
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Oct. 5, 2016) -- "Don't ever live in a box that someone created for you," said Sgt. Brian Ellis, creator of the Post Deployment and Transitional Recovery Coach Program. "Take control and advocate for yourself."
Ellis began the free program in April of 2015. "The program started right after I finished my treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs."
According to Ellis, his own struggles with PTSD prompted him to begin the program.
"I've been on two deployments," said Ellis. "The first was as an Infantryman to Iraq in 2003 and the second was in 2011 to Afghanistan where I served as a medevac crew chief."
"Everything that happened after Iraq, I didn't seek any help for. I just kind of dealt with it because I was a very young Soldier and I had a lot of pride. When I deployed to Afghanistan, everything I went through in Iraq kind of resurfaced," he added.
Ellis revealed that was when things doubled up on him. "I ate all of my emotions 100 percent and when I came home I kind of fell apart. That's when I knew that I had to seek treatment."
Ellis believes that his program will provide those who use it with insight.
"It provides an explanation on why Soldiers act the way they act," he said. "It can help the spouses and families of Soldiers understand what we're going through and why. It lends a hand to those who aren't familiar with military culture as well."
The program starts at the very beginning of our career in the military," said Ellis. "It details how we get to the point of needing treatment and why we don't ask sooner."
The Post Deployment and Transitional Recovery Coach Program was first used at the VA in Tampa, Florida.
"The clinic I belonged to was called the Center for Post Deployment Health and Education," said Ellis. "When I started the recovery coach program at the CPHE, we had between 20 to 30 patients enrolled at the time. The program lasted 22 weeks and included groups and one-on-one mentoring sessions under the supervision of licensed practitioners."
Ellis explained that while the program can be done individually as a self-help program, it was designed for a peer specialist or recovery coach to facilitate.
To make the program available to more people, Ellis streamlined his 22-week program so that it could be used to help people understand they are not alone. He hopes they will use his information to reflect on their own situation.
"I've seen this program work and it has the potential to help a lot of people," Ellis said.
According to Ellis, the peer specialist field is perfect for the military culture.
"It's veterans teaching veterans how to get back on track," he said. "Most of the veterans who are peer specialists and recovery coaches have spent 10 or 20 years in the military, so they're very seasoned and they've been through quite a few combat deployments. Some are educated in psychology and have been trained to deal with these types of situations."
Ellis is currently negotiating with Neurorehab Services of America, a veteran owned company in Sarasota, Fla., to offer his full 22-week program pro bono to service members and their families.
For more information about the Post Deployment and Transitional Recovery Coach Program, visit http://ptsdrecoveryprogram.com/. For more Department of Veteran Affairs resources regarding PTSD, visit http://www.ptsd.va.gov/.