Non-profit group helping young veterans with PTSD

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- They risked their lives for their country but face an even harder struggle once home. Many veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder have trouble finding the help they need. That's where one local group is stepping up to help.

With the help of a popular talk radio host, the PTSD Foundation of America just got a big infusion of cash. The group hopes to use that money to save the lives of the soldiers who fought for their country.

"For me personally, the pain was so bad that I thought the only way it would stop was if I died," says Air Force veteran Alex Vitek.

"Suicidal has been a big part of my life," shares Army veteran Nate Mclendon. "I've had five suicide attempts."

Two tours in Iraq lead Nate Mclendon down that miserable path. Alex Vitek did one tour with the Air Force in Afghanistan. Both ended up at the PTSD Foundation's residential facility, Camp Hope, in northwest Houston coping with the PTSD that nearly caused them both to take their own lives.

"What we do here is peer mentoring," Vitek says. "When one of the guys tells me something, they can tell me the exact same thing that a doctor tells me. But I'm gonna take it from them because they understand."

Foundation spokesperson, talk radio host Michael Berry, led an effort to raise $50,000. Thursday night, he and a few friends who jumped on board the fundraising effort presented a check for more than $207,000.

"Actually the number is going to be much higher than that when it's all said and done," says Executive Director David Maulsby.

The veterans who have come through the program hope this donation is a step toward raising more awareness for the issues they bring home.

"Soldiers are coming home from the wars that they fight, that I fought in, and civilians don't even know how serious it is because they don't take the time to get to know the soldiers," Mclendon tells us.

Maulsby says his whole staff is made up of alumni, like Alex, who share what helped them stay alive.

"The majority of my guys have alcohol and drug issues, and I tell those guys to stay sober and those suicidal thoughts will go away a little bit easier," Vitek says.

The foundation works with people throughout Texas and is expanding.

More information about how to get help, and how you can support it is at their website.
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