‘Be not ashamed’: New website helps first responders and military vets deal with PTSD

ORANGE COUNTY, Florida. — DA Michaels’ one-woman push to help military veterans and first responders struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, hinges on a tragedy that nearly sent her ‘down the rabbit hole’ “.

“Seventeen I was as strong as I could be, then suddenly (became) not,” Michaels told News 6. “For some reason, this one in particular is the one who just sent me home and broke me.”

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The author of “Courageously Broken” offers a chapter-by-chapter journey through her struggles with PTSD in the US Navy and then as a sheriff’s deputy in Orange County.

The event that gave PTSD that emotional punch was an emergency call made to a home in Orange County in 2017.

He was reacting to the drowning of a 2-year-old boy, hearing his mother’s screams, and seeing the lifeless child in the pool fracturing his world and pushing her almost to the brink.

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“I came dangerously close to becoming a 22-year-old statistic,” she recalled.

A statistic of 22 refers to the chilling data showing that 22 veterans lose their battle with PTSD on American soil every day, or one veteran every 65 minutes.

The same goes for our first responders.

“We’re all human, we all have a breaking point,” Michaels said.

A white paper study conducted by the Ruderman Family Foundation in 2018 found that law enforcement officers and firefighters are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty.

That’s why Michaels has developed a new website listing organizations that will help first responders and military vets deal with PTSD.

The website is expected to go live on June 1.

“It’s very important to me that the message gets out there and that people understand that they’re not alone and they can get the help they need,” Michaels said.

Michaels was able to get help and manage her emotional pain, but she worries that too many of them are internalizing the pain and never talking about it.

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Walter “Hoop” Adams served in the United States Navy between 1980 and 2000.

Adams, who now lives in the Florida Panhandle, said the death of a shipmate had haunted him for years and the recent death of his father had pushed him over the edge.

“PTSD is like darkness,” Adams told News 6. “It comes in and puts out all the light in your life.”

Adams said he focused on his wife, grandchildren and pets to remember why he had to be here.

“Don’t hide, don’t be ashamed. I’m begging you, please, because at the end of the road you go down, it’s not good. It’s death,” Adams said.

If you are looking for someone to talk to about a PTSD issue, use the following website: www.HU2H.org.

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