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Renewal center to help veterans with PTSD and other issues

PHOENIX — The Franciscan Renewal Center in Paradise Valley is about to host a retreat for military veterans who have physical and emotional wounds.

Army veteran Dave Campbell is coming to the retreat for the second straight year. He served in Desert Storm more than 20 years ago.

“I spend nine months and I enjoyed it,” Campbell said, “except for the [post-traumatic stress disorder].”

That has been hell. Campbell has nightmares every night, and has even been arrested because of it.

“I ended up in a padded jail cell because I lost my mind driving,” Campbell said. “I was having a PTSD episode. DPS pulled me over, and I started yelling ‘I’m going to kill, and I’m going to rip your throats out.'”

He was in jail for two days. When he was released, he decided to get help. Campbell was able to open up about his problems with other veterans at last year’s Healing Journey retreat.

Campbell said that talking with other veterans was just like they were all together in a platoon.

“If you’re in a platoon environment, and everybody’s talking about the same issues, it makes it very easy for everybody to bring it all out,” he said.

This year’s retreat will be led by Michael Lapsley, an Anglican priest from South Africa. He said he feels called to minister to the injured because he is one of them.

He lost both hands and an eye when a bomb inside a letter exploded as he opened it. It was during South Africa’s Anti-Apartheid Movement in 1990.

As for what is happening here in the U.S., Lapsley says that it’s not just the military veterans who are hurting.

“Because of the United States’ addiction to war, unending war, families in communities all over this country are affected,” said Lapsley.

And the veterans have various problems.

“There are many people who may not have PTSD, but they still have unfinished business from the war,” Lapsley said. “There’s a discourse that people are speaking about, both spiritual and moral injury.”

The retreat will host 24 veterans at the retreat at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Paradise Valley starting this weekend.