HOUSTON (FOX 26) - A house in northwest Houston is a whole lot more than simply a place to call home for military veterans -- it’s a new effort to fight post traumatic stress disorder. We can usually clearly see when our American heroes are physically injured but emotional and psychological scarring can be much more difficult to detect, leaving veterans to suffer silently, often feeling abnormal, lost and hopeless. That's where Camp Hope comes in.
”It's a place where veterans are finding both camaraderie and a new normal after the trauma of war,” explains Camp Hope executive director David Maulsby.
“I would definitely say this program saved my life,” adds 32-year-old U.S. Marine Justin Masters. He suffered PTSD after returning from deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.
”I have chills standing in my old room," says Masters as he shows FOX 26 News the bedroom at Camp Hope where he once stayed. "It's pretty surreal.” In fact, more than 300 veterans have lived in the house. The home had been closed for renovations but is now ready to receive more American heroes who have been left traumatized by what they have witnessed.
”I lost 23 veterans while I was serving," explains Masters. "Since I’ve been back we've lost a total of eight to suicide.”
The house that is reopening is perhaps as special as the Houston native it is named for, U.S. Marine Clay Hunt, who lost his life to suicide after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
”During that time frame, both those tours of duty, he saw a lot of tough times, a lot of guys die,” says Clay Hunt’s father Stacy Hunt, who attended the grand reopening of the Clay Hunt House. Stacy says his son suffered horrible PTSD.
”He would feel uncomfortable walking into a large store like a Walmart and going around the corner and not sure what was going to be around that corner,” explains Hunt.
Masters knows that all too well. He says he took off running just the other day inside Home Depot after a light bulb fell.
”People see that and they're like, 'What is wrong with this man?,'" explains Masters. "What they really don't see is the invisible wounds.”
Camp Hope is an entire compound providing different types of shelter, counseling and tools for military veterans in their personal battles against PTSD. The veterans enrolled in the program have already paid quite a high price so it is absolutely free.
”We provide the housing," says Maulsby. "We provide the bulk of their food. We get them to VA appointments.”
Masters now wants every veteran battling PTSD to know that they don't have to suffer anymore.
“Your world would be different if you'd just let this program work” says Masters.
Enroll in the program or get more information about Camp Hope by visiting www.ptsdusa.org. There’s also a PTSD crisis hotline you can contact 24 hours a day by phone at 877-717-7873.
“Even though you're going to carry those memories around all your life, you can still be a great contributor to society and help others,” adds Stacy.