I first heard about Ryan Weldon because of the radio station that I listen to in the Houston area. 94.5 TheBuzz brought up the story of when Weldon was doing the 5000 mile walk across the United States for PTSD awareness.

Ryan is an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, who served in the Marine Corps from 1999 -2003. He started in February of 2015, walking from the east coast of Delaware across the United States on the Great American Discovery Trail to the coast of San Francisco, CA. Along the way he stayed at homes of other veterans or slept in a tent. This little walk took over 400 days.

He was able to get a huge amount of press for PTSD awareness:

He also was able to raise over ten thousand dollars personally on a GoFundMe page.

What is PTSD?

PTSD definition from the PTSD Foundation of America:

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault in adult or childhood. Most survivors of trauma return to normal given a little time. However, some people will have stress reactions that do not go away on their own, or may even get worse over time. These individuals may develop PTSD. People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged, and these symptoms can be severe enough and last long enough to significantly impair the person’s daily life.

Some staggering PTSD statistics:

  • One in three returning troops are being diagnosed with serious Post-Traumatic Stress symptoms. Less than 40% will seek help.
  • In 2009, a record breaking year for suicides in the service. 245 soldiers killed themselves.
  • On average, FIVE active-duty troops attempt suicide EACH DAY.
  • 11,00 troops have taken their own lives since 2006.
  • For troops suffering from combat trauma, two out of three of their marriages are failing, 200,000 military marriages have been broken, and more than 27,000 in 2009 alone.
  • Veteran homelessness is on the rise with 1/3 of our nations homeless being veterans.
  • In 2008 suicide deaths began to surpass combat related fatalities.
  • In 2008 one in every four were diagnosed with PTSD, and some experts believe this could increase to one in two by 2011 years end.

PTSD symptoms

  • Re-experiencing Symptoms – Flashback to the traumatic event. These memories can come back when they are not expecting them. Reliving the event may cause intense feelings of fear, helplessness, and horror similar to the feelings they had when the event took place.
  • Avoidance and Numbing Symptoms – Individuals may try to avoid situations that trigger memories of the traumatic event. They may avoid other sights, sounds, smells, or people that are reminders of the traumatic event.
  • Arousal Symptoms – They may feel emotionally “numb” and may isolate from others. They may be less interested in activities they once enjoyed.
  • Other conditions to occur with PTSD, are depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.

What is Camp Hope?

Camp Hope

The facility opened in 2012 and is located in a quiet and safe setting in Houston, Texas whereby veterans and their immediate family members can find healing, help, and hope while benefiting from an intensive peer support and mentoring program for Post Traumatic Stress. In addition to temporary housing, Camp Hope offers a 4-6 month PTSD treatment program in which residents: attend group lessons and support sessions with other combat veterans; conduct individual mentoring sessions with certified combat trauma mentors; participate in off-site small group interaction activities (fishing, hiking, local activities and events); and get involved with local churches, businesses and volunteer organizations to assist in their personal healing and educating the community on the invisible wounds of war.

Camp Hope
PTSD Foundation of America
9724 Derrington Rd
Houston, TX 77064

Send donations and mail to Camp Hope’s Mailing Address
P.O. Box 690748
Houston, TX 77269

PTSD Veteran Line: 1-877-717-PTSD (7873)