In Depth with Brad Byrd: Saving honor

In Depth with Brad Byrd

Eyewitness News’ Brad Byrd talks to two veterans about the topic of suicide and how they’re helping area veterans with events around the Tri-State. Those events are a way to honor those who help protect us.

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Brad Byrd: Welcome to In-Depth. You serve your country, you watch our backs, if you are in the theatre of war, you see horrific sights. And they can stay with you long after you come home. Tonight, we are saying thank you for your service and talking about a subject many are uncomfortable to discuss: suicide. It has become a growing problem for many of our veterans.

Joining me tonight are Jimmy Callahan, a US marine and Dan Oates a 27-year Army veteran, both organizing several events dedicated to our military heroes and major events coming up. It’s called Point Man. And the mission of point man – it’s not just not one particular area, you’re branching out and helping veterans in the Tri-State, right?

Dan Oates: Exactly, we primarily help the veterans suffering from Pot Traumatic Stress, or TBI. But we’ve expanded to helping homeless vets through the Grisham House, we helped vets through the honor flight. We’ve helped retired veterans through SWIRCA and a number of organizations – if there’s a veteran in need, we’re trying to find a way to help them.

Brad Byrd: And speaking of veterans in need, they’re out there, and Jimmy, you’re instrumental in this reboot combat recovery – it’s a 12-week program and the success rate is – at least here locally – is phenomenal. Tell me about that.

Jimmy Callahan: Yeah, the stats are 22 veterans are dying everyday due to suicide from PTSD. Reboot was created in an effort to end that. It’s a 12-week long trauma healing course that focuses on spiritual and moral whims of war.

Brad: And this brings in the families of these veterans too, right?

Jimmy: Yes, that’s what makes it unique – the spouse and fiancés get to participate, and they get to learn what the triggers are, what are healthy ways to cope. It brings the family together in ways that they can team up and fight this together.

Brad: And the sights of war could be very, very disturbing and I know Dan that you and Jimmy both have witnessed things while you have been in various places overseas, how has that affected you Dan? And this dates back to Vietnam.

Dan Oates: 50 years ago, in October. You don’t forget what your experiences are, you’ll always remember those experiences – I was in the last reboot class that Jimmy held. And I don’t think I have Post Traumatic Stress, or any issues, but I had issues that it helped come to the forefront that I pushed way back into my psyche for a very long time.

Brad Byrd: They call PTSD – invisible wounds and very hard to see unless you’re inside that soldier’s mind and heart and Jimmy, and how did that turn your life around in some ways?

Jimmy Callahan: Well, before the program, there was a lot of loss, hopelessness, despair, anger and what it does if you don’t have an outlet, it can destroy your family. I want to make the point that more veterans have died by suicide from PTSD than the conflicts of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Brad: And we talked a little bit about this in the newsroom, as a veteran you’re tough – you face potential death every day – in a combat situation – but when you’re back home, what is the trigger that would make a Marine say I’m done?

Jimmy: Well, I don’t mean to correct you, but I was a Navy Corp. man with the Marines, so I honored those guys, I supported those guys in combat, so I want to make that distinction because I didn’t get to wear their uniform – they’ve got the best uniform in the military. I mean what you see in combat is chaos, it’s ugliness, you can’t come home and just talk about it. And part of being a military member and always ready for combat is being ready. If you show a sign of weakness that’s putting yourself at risk for your position.

Brad Byrd: Coming up, the first point man charity patriot ride on June 8th and this is something you’ve wanted to happen – what’s going to happen?

Jimmy: Well first and foremost, it’s to honor our 75th anniversary of D-Day – it’s to honor all veterans, specifically the 75th anniversary of D-Day. As veterans we keep those dates very close. The patriot ride will start out at Bud’s Harley in Evansville, and go through 75 miles of Southern Indiana. For the riders and passengers, there’s a free lunch and we’re going to have a half pot and door prizes and things of that nature – but the Army National Guard is coming from Vincennes to present their 155 mobile malitzers, we’ve got the mobile crisis vehicle is gonna be there – it should be a good day. We got t-shirts, and of course you get to show your patriotism and get to ride with a bunch of vets.

Brad: In the grand scheme of things Dan, as far as a timeline, you’ve been kind of in the middle of Vietnam – we’re talking about WWII and Korea, Vietnam, conflicts in the middle east – the evening of the old guard is coming up June 17th – tell me about that.

Dan: That’s a special evening that we’re doing in conjunction with Boone Funeral Home. There will be a showing of a film at The Crossroads at 6:30 p.m. in our chapel and then we have an old guard who will be there to tell about his experience and what most people don’t know is when they become a member of the old guard, it’s a life-long membership of agreement of things that they’ll do. They can’t have any alcohol, they can’t do a number of things, so it’s a big commitment. And this guy will talk about that. It’s free and we provide the food and childcare.

Brad: Thank you Dan Oates and Jimmy Callahan for being with us tonight.

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(This story was originally published on May 6, 2019)

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