Life After Combat – Veterans Fighting PTSD Through Hockey

May 22, 2022 71.9K Views 357 Comments

Many servicemen come back from combat abroad and have difficulties adjusting back to “normal” life in the USA. In this video, we meet a group of vets who have found invaluable camaraderie and therapy through hockey. Join me as we gain valuable advice from those who have served our country, and have a different perspective from those of us who haven’t served.

► Panthers Warriors Hockey organization: https://pantherswarriorshockey.org/

► Video edited by: Natalia Santenello

– Good afternoon, guys.
Quite often, our service men
and women who have fought
for America overseas
come home transformed,
quite often with disabilities
like post traumatic stress disorder.
Today’s video is about a solution to that.
Panthers Warriors Hockey.
We’re not gonna go here, we’re
gonna go to the practice rink
to meet a group of guys, all veterans,
who have fought overseas for us
to get insight on how
they look at the country,
their experiences, and what
we can learn from them.
(upbeat funky music)
– Just in time.
– All right, here we are with Nicholas.
Nicholas, you’re in charge
of this club, right?
– Yes, sir. Yep.
– [Peter] You got me a jersey.
– Yeah, we had an extra one, dude.
So you can’t really be a part
of it and not look the part.
You know what I mean?
– All right. I already got the hat.
– [Nicholas] Yeah, you got the hat, dude.
– There you go.
No gear though,
it’s pretty big.
– How does it feel though?
– Oh, I love it, man.
I grew up playing hockey.
– So our goalie over there,
Ed Hickey, in the corner,
he was a aircraft pilot in Desert Storm.
Ed!
Ed.
Hickey.
See, he’s deaf from flying planes.
Hickey, wave hi.
Mr. Eric J. He was a Marine.
Matt Childress over there.
He was a navy corpsman.
– [Peter] How about the
guy on the right of him?
– Carl has cancer now
so that’s why he’s not suited up to play.
He’s hoping to come to Pittsburgh
with us next week though.
So that’s pretty amazing.
Adam Lamb, and he’s been
playing with us for a long time.
He was a Marine. He’s a disabled vet also.
– When you say disabled,
disabled can mean post traumatic
stress disorder, it can mean-
– Yeah, I’m sorry.
So, yeah. So yeah.
– Any mental issues
that come with fighting.
– Yeah.
A lot of us been, you know,
blown up or shot at, or,
you know, like my buddy,
Mike Heller, over there,
he has a Purple Heart,
which is like, you know,
it’s a pretty serious thing to get that.
– Most of you guys fought in Afghanistan
or Iraq or both or?
– Iraq. Afghanistan.
We even have one guy that
he was in the Vietnam era.
He’s 74 years old.
Some of these guys don’t leave their house
and this is the only
reason that they come out.
I’ve seen a lot of people change
from, like come out of their shell,
where like they were
gonna kill themselves.
– Hockey in itself is just a brotherhood.
No matter where you go, any place,
I’ve lived in four different states,
you go to a rink, you set your bag down,
you already have a brotherhood.
This takes it to the next level.
Everybody’s been through basic.
Everybody’s been through,
I won’t say bad words,
but everybody’s been
through the same…
-Sh*t!
-The same thing.
So, the brotherhood is.
– Hockey’s a family.
– Military was a family,
now hockey’s the family.
Fair to say?
– Yep.
– [Player] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.
– All right, guys, first time
skating in many of years.
There we go.
– [Player] Anybody else in
the room? In the lockers?
– I don’t know if you guys
know how much it is yet,
but we got $6,241.
(team cheering)
(sticks clapping)
(player whistles)
– For Carl’s cancer treatment.
– Speech!
– We gotta give kudos to Wayne
who organized the whole thing.
Ryan Lomberg who’s a freakin’ rockstar,
and all you guys.
– Lombo!
– That freakin’ did what you
guys did to help Carl.
– Yeah, buddy!
– Carl!
– Yeah!
(sticks clapping)
(team cheering)
– We’re starting off
with a little practice
then, I believe, we’ve got a scrimmage.
(smooth rock and roll music)
– He’s gonna dump the puck in.
You have the two D men here and here.
– Adam.
– Yeah.
(smooth rock and roll music continues)
– There you go. Skate with ’em!
– [Peter] You were in the armed services?
– US Navy Pearl Harbor. Submarines.
– [Peter] Oh, wow. How was that?
– It was a lot of fun. It
was a lot of intensity.
It’s an 18 hour day in the submarine.
It’s not a 24 hour day.
So it’s nonstop, nonstop.
You go out for six months, you come back,
a few months off and you go back again.
I ran the nuclear reactor, so-
– You ran the nuclear reactor?
– Yeah, on the subs.
So it was a lot of
training, a lot of drills.
(smooth rock and roll music continues)
– [Peter] How’d that one feel in the head?
– Not good.
– He got a pretty hard one to the head.
Shook it off.
– [Player] Oh!
– [Peter] How long you been doing this?
– I’ve been with the
program since it started.
– What do you get out of doing it?
– It saved my life, dude, honestly.
– Saved your life?
– Yeah.
I’ve had a tough time as far as, you know,
deaths in my family in
the last couple years.
All these guys have
basically checked on me.
He’s been my battle buddy, right here.
He’s helped me a lot, so.
I love it.
It charges my fire, baby.
Hey!
– [Player 20] I can see
new faces, that’s great.
And give a stick clap to
everyone that’s shown up too.
(player whoops)
(team cheers)
– [Carl] I wanna thank
all you guys, once again.
– [Player] Course, Carl.
– Yeah!
– Carl!
– I know I’m gonna have
some really, really,
really, really rough days.
We find out tomorrow if they’re
gonna do surgery on my arm.
If I do, I lose mobility.
So I wanna thank you guys for everything.
– Of course, man.
– I just wanna get back
out on the ice, that’s all I want.
– Hi.
– Hi, buddy, how are you?
– [Peter] You got a good slap shot?
Nice.
You’re co-founder, general manager,
and support for the guys.
– Yeah, I’m the guy that makes sure
there’s beverages after the practice.
– [Peter] How many guys?
– Well, you know what?
We started with really with the nucleus
and we’ve got over 60 guys on the roster.
I’m a civilian.
I did not sign on the dotted
line. These guys all did.
– [Peter] Did you serve overseas?
– I was in Tikrit, Iraq. Mount Sinjar.
– Oh, wow.
– And Tal Afar
during the surge.
– What do people not understand
about the consequences of war?
– Well, you go over there,
you don’t know what to expect
and then you experience it,
and what that does is
actually it changes you
from your foundation.
For the soldiers that
had to go bust down doors
during the surge.
– Yeah.
– ‘Cause that’s where I was in.
They sent in like over a
hundred thousand soldiers
in a real short period of time.
During that timeframe,
people were literally busting
down doors and just searching
for insurgents, people with guns.
– Right.
– And those are the ones
who had to on the fly, kill
or be killed, make a decision.
And sometimes they are right decisions,
sometimes it’s wrong, but, you know,
you don’t know what to expect
when you’re running into a
door and people are panicking.
– Right.
– So some people, you know,
have to make that decision
and shoot somebody.
– Yeah.
– You know,
it’s very overwhelming after the fact,
’cause when you’re there,
you’re programmed as a soldier.
You’re just like just carry
on day by day, day by day.
You know, you just count one last day
on your deployment until the end.
And then it’s at the end when
you’re back and you’re safe,
that’s when it all kind
of just floods on you.
It took me like five years post military
to like fully process it.
Some of it was a lot of self work.
All the things they teach soldiers now
to prevent suicide and whatnot,
and it’s just about maintaining
your level of anxiety
’cause that’s kind of what PTSD is,
it’s just like a constant
state of anxiety.
– Do you still have PTSD?
Does it ever go away?
– Yeah. Loud noises.
Yeah, sudden loud noises,
I can feel my adrenaline just surge.
Yeah, but then it’s like,
you gotta go ahead and
just do like 30 seconds
to 60 seconds of deep breathing
and then it goes away.
Getting over PTSD is managing the new you.
Even people who don’t see any combat
come back from combat changed,
and I feel that those who
don’t, or are not affected,
are just in their own sense emotionally
either like not present or just immature
and they don’t really grasp certain things
so it doesn’t affect them as much.
– Okay.
– But those who are more aware
and, you know,
question decisions and are
forced to make those decisions.
– Right.
– Are the ones who have
more of a weight on them at the end.
– That’s what this program does.
It brings guys together that
could share those stories
that normally they wouldn’t share.
Like a Vietnam veteran didn’t talk
about what happened with his family.
They wouldn’t understand.
Now we, as a society,
instead of shock treatment,
we’re treating PTSD
with things like hockey.
– It’s what everybody wants,
is that community, getting
together with friends.
– Some people don’t understand,
they don’t feel that way.
They disrespect guys that laid their life.
It’s like law enforcement.
– Sure.
– They’re heroes.
– Yeah.
– You know.
Just for the fact that they sign
on the line.
– One point I’d like to make
too is like, there’s a lot of, say, policy
I don’t agree with, right?
That the government,
the federal government,
might do.
– Right.
– But it doesn’t mean I don’t
support any of the troops
or the people that have
sacrificed their lives.
To me, those are two separate things.
– Absolutely.
These guys don’t have a choice.
Right?
They don’t have a choice.
Their commander in chief
is whoever’s the president.
Right?
We have a choice.
– I wanna be a goalie.
– Yeah.
– You’re gonna be a goalie?
– Yes.
– Okay. So you’re Dad.
– [Girl] My dad might be a hockey player.
– Yeah. This is my first
practice with the warriors.
– [Peter] Oh, great. How was it?
– It was awesome.
It was really awesome.
You know, I’ve been looking
for a community for me,
you know, since I got out.
– When did you return to the States?
– I served from 2002 to 2007.
– Okay.
– You know,
stationed in Germany.
Spent a little over two years in Iraq.
– What did that experience teach you?
– Kind of growing up.
I fell out, you know, in
the wrong crowd and stuff,
you know, and I always say that
if I hadn’t joined the military,
like I would’ve wound up in jail
or I would’ve been dead now, you know?
And for me it was the discipline.
It kind of forced me to grow up,
forced me to take
responsibility for myself.
– Okay.
– And, you know,
it taught me a lot of life skills.
Iraq was, it was tough, you
know, at times, as you expect.
– Right.
– But it’s an experience
I wouldn’t trade for the
world, you know, because it’s,
you know, it’s one of those things
that it definitely helps make the person,
makes who you are today.
– [Peter] He’s turning
Amish. You didn’t hear that?
– Yeah. No, no, no.
When I let it grow-
– You look like
you could be Amish.
– When I let it grow, it goes.
Yeah.
– You look like
you could be Amish.
– I got the hat
and everything.
– You just get the little hat
and a buggy.
This is all I can tell you
about the Panthers Warriors.
So, hockey is a very small community.
And then when you take it
and you make it all military,
I mean, when I talk about
it it gives me goosebumps.
I’ve only been here like a year.
Max and myself stayed in his house.
– [Peter] How’s Nick’s cooking?
– We had pizza.
– Honestly.
(both laughing)
Paul, where’d you serve?
– Everywhere.
– Yeah, everywhere.
– [Peter] Everywhere under the sun.
– Yeah, I did quite a few deployments, so.
I did seven trips to
Iraq, two to Afghanistan.
– How do you integrate back
after seven deployments?
Like, was that tough or
how does that process go?
For someone that doesn’t
know, like myself.
– Well it’s the military,
you’re just coming back.
‘Cause when you come
back, you’re at your unit
and everybody’s just normal, right?
– Okay.
– But it’s when
you’re out of the military.
– Right.
– That’s when it,
I don’t wanna say like it
kind of messes with guys,
but a lot of guys have a
hard time to adapt, you know.
– [Peter] Why, ’cause nobody
understands you or what?
– Different sense of humors.
We have our like own
language in the military
and stuff like that.
– Okay.
– So like what’s really
comical to a group of guys like this,
you’d go to say that out at a party
and everybody’s going to look at you like,
what the hell is wrong
with this guy? (chuckles)
– [Peter] Right. What is the humor?
Is it really dark humor
or what is it?
– Yeah.
It’s really dark humor, so.
– Okay.
And most people can’t handle?
– Yeah.
– It’s not
politically correct?
– It’s not at all. Yeah (laughs).
Locker room talk as they would call it,
except it’s like taking it to the extreme.
– So, okay, how does it feel coming back
to the US after spending
so much time out of it?
Like, do see it differently or?
– I feel like it’s almost
like an ungrateful society,
because of the fact
that they don’t realize
how good they have it here.
You know, I mean,
even when we were over
there and we’re catered to
on every aspect humanly possible,
it’s still a dump to stay in, you know.
People want to talk about
hard times here in the States,
it’s like, buddy, your worst
day is a thousand times better
than some of the people
that I’ve ran into over there, you know?
It’s nice having the aspect
of freedom over here,
but then, you lose out on that camaraderie
and that brotherhood
that you had over there.
You know, because it’s like
you’re all in the same fight
type thing.
– Yeah.
– And it’s, you know,
there’s no like racism
or anything that goes on.
Everybody’s just green, you know?
So it’s like you judge the
person by their capabilities
and quality of set individual, you know?
– Right, ’cause the military is people
from all over the country,
lot of different backgrounds.
Right?
– Yeah.
Oh, yeah.
– [Peter] So you just have to get along.
– Yeah. So I mean, geez,
I remember me and one guy,
we didn’t get along very well
and we just happened to be
two different ethnicities.
And I remember when he got hit,
I was like the first guy
volunteering to take him out.
Well, see, I just wanted
tell him how much I hated him
the entire route, but it
was just to prove to him
I would do anything for you
regardless, you know, so.
But I would love to sit there
and take anybody from this country
that complains about anything
and I would happily fly
’em over there for a week
and I guarantee after 24 hours,
they’d be like, “I wanna go home.”
– Dr. Sachs, this is our buddy Peter.
– Hey, Peter.
– [Peter] Dr. Sachs.
– Yeah, hey.
– Okay.
Medical doctor?
– Psychologist.
– [Peter] Psychologist.
– Sachs has been here since
the beginning with us.
Like I met him actually,
unfortunately, at-
– At Gabe’s memorial service.
– At Gabe’s memorial,
which was a mutual friend of both of us.
So I didn’t know him
prior to any of this and-
– Gabe was Gabe Accardi, Nick
Butterworth and Gary Roskin,
you guys were the three co-founders.
– Gabe suffered from, actually-
– Addiction.
– He had other demons.
He had addiction and he ended up ODing
the day before we got our
affiliation with the Panthers.
It’s kind of unusual,
you know what I mean?
It’s a great thing for us,
but it’s unusual for a
lot of these veteran teams
to get the backing of the NHL team.
The whole military top end
is all West Point graduates
and military members.
– Yeah.
The Panthers’ brass.
– The whole top end of the
Panthers, even the owner,
you know, Vinnie Viola
was in 101st Airborne.
– Oh, yeah, yeah.
– And that’s why his-
– [Peter] That’s why at the games
you had to salute to veterans.
– Well, yeah.
And a lot of teams do that now
because it’s good.
– Okay.
– You know what I mean?
– Even the Panthers crest
actually is a reminiscent of the-
– Of the 101st Airborne
which is who Vinnie Viola served for.
It’s a concept of the US Army uniform.
When you look at the patches
on the shoulders and the tabs, that’s-
– [Peter] You have a
little different style
with Lombergini.
– Well, yeah,
it’s a little different.
This is not official.
– Is that your man crush?
Is that your man crush, Nick?
– No, actually he…
Lomberg is an honorary Panther Warrior.
He comes out and donates his time to us
in the off season and-
– Wayne was just texting
with him a minute ago.
– [Peter] You’re a psychologist.
– That’s right, yeah.
– Post traumatic stress disorder.
– Yep.
– Someone like me,
I have very little understanding of it.
– Sure.
– But the basics are,
someone goes through a
traumatic experience.
– Yep.
– It stays with them in their subconscious
and it doesn’t go away until what,
or how do they cope with it?
– Where post traumatic stress comes in
is basically any life threatening event,
like a car accident for a
civilian or for military,
you could develop PTSD,
your life flashes before
your eyes, all that.
That’s a potential traumatic event.
People shooting at you every day,
those are multiple
potential traumatic events.
– So they sort of accumulate.
– They can accumulate.
– Okay.
– I mean, for some guys
you can just have that one
moment, like roadside bomb.
Some people go through like
a totally fine deployment.
– It’s in a lot of ideas.
– And then they just have that
one event and that’s enough.
– A lot of it is,
is that you go through the wars
where it’s a lot of mundane,
you know, just boring stuff.
– Boring.
– You feel like God,
you’re rolling in a turret
and you got a .50 cal and everything
and then you get hit by an IED
and you feel like you’re
the size of an ant.
You know what I mean?
– Yeah.
– And there’s nothing,
you feel helpless and.
And then two minutes later,
there’s nothing going on again.
And it’s just, you know,
you’re trying to reflect on
what the hell just happened.
– You go back to the base
and get dinner, right?
– Well like, yeah, yeah,
you go get dinner and then you go to bed
and you get up and go do
it again the next day.
I mean, I did convoy
security for KBR civilians
and for TCMs third country nationals.
So we had four Hummers
escorting 20 semis every day.
My truck got blown up by an IED.
I gave my gunner a ride to the medic tent
to get looked over, but
we didn’t even think to,
you know, we’re like, “Ah, we’re good.”
You know what I mean?
We didn’t even think about it.
And here he is, he’s gotta go-
– See, if I got run over right now,
that could be a traumatic event.
PTSD is a little bit more flashy.
It gets a little bit more press.
The reality is from a statistical
perspective, a veteran,
just, you know, touching
Nick ’cause he is here.
A veteran is more likely
to develop depression
than they are PTSD.
– Guys not deploying or this or that,
or, you know, just
signing that dotted line,
which is the most amazing thing
anyone could do is sign the dotted line.
– What is the feeling you get
by signing the dotted line?
– You’re putting something
bigger than yourself,
you know, you’re putting everything
that’s in front of yourself,
you know, so that you’re
making an ultimate sacrifice
that you may go to war.
I joined when I was 17,
my mom had to sign the
paperwork for me to go.
You know what I mean?
I dropped outta high
school, I went to the army.
– I didn’t even know you
could enter the army at 17.
– 17.
– You have to get
parental permission.
– Parental permission. Yeah.
– What’s the earliest? 17?
– 17. Yeah.
– Okay.
– I got in at 17 and I was gone.
So I mean, you know,
that’s a pretty young age.
– [Peter] Just a kid.
– That’s a kid. Baby.
Baby, I couldn’t even buy drinks
when I got back from Iraq
’cause I wasn’t even 21 yet.
But it’s what I was getting at was that
one of the biggest kickers is that
just leaving the military,
if you did 20 years,
five years, four years,
or this or that, when you
leave that brotherhood,
that takes a toll on you.
– Yeah.
– That can cause
major depression just from not being
in that regiment.
– That transition.
Yeah.
– Yeah.
So, that’s the biggest, hardest thing
for us veterans is our transition phase.
A lot of us go off the rails.
– Yeah. 100%.
– You know what I mean?
That’s why there-
– Like how do you go from being, say,
in a group like this abroad
to going home to the grocery store,
living in an apartment alone?
– Well, that’s the problem.
It’s very-
– And having no structure,
having no one checking in on you.
– Yeah, it’s very hard to
control yourself like that
and a lot of us go off, you know,
that’s why there’s 22 veterans
killing themselves every day.
And that’s why-
– 22 a day?
In the country?
– 22 a day, that’s the national average.
I’ve had a lot of friends that, you know,
I get called in the middle of the night,
waking me up saying,
“Dude, I think I’m
gonna blow my head off.”
I gotta get up at four
in the morning and try…
We’re there for ’em. You know what I mean?
I’ll answer that phone.
And it just happened to me two weeks ago.
My buddy’s actually
in, he lives in Kansas.
He’s actually in Miami now doing,
you know, alcohol treatment,
trying to get himself sober
and better and stuff.
– He’s in a facility.
– Yep.
– Yeah.
– So, Doctor, do a lot of addiction habits
start after this experience
when they come home or?
– Well, I can answer that one.
– Yeah, you go and then I’ll go.
– They do, because my experience is,
I started gambling a lot.
I did a lot of, you know,
different drugs and this and that,
but really is what we’re trying to do
is we’re trying to chase
that adrenaline rush.
– Right.
– So, you know,
when you’re feeling bombs
and shock waves and you’re in a war,
your adrenaline’s pumping all the time
and so that’s why we go ride Harleys,
or ride our motorcycles at
120 and jump out of planes
and gamble our money away
and do different drugs and this and that,
because we’re trying to
feed that adrenaline.
It’s super hard.
That’s one of the things
that causes the depression
and everything, ’cause you’re not getting
that adrenaline rush anymore.
– So that is almost a good
thing when you’re in war,
not like what’s happening,
but your adrenaline rush,
you come addicted to it.
– Yes, you do and-
– Sure, and it’s good
in the moment.
– It’s great and it feels awesome
and you almost get addicted to it.
What I always heard when I was a kid
that you’ll never feel any drug like war.
And I never understood what
that meant until I was in war
and came home, and then
you actually look back
and you’re like, I miss that shockwave
going through my body.
It’s weird, you know what I mean?
And it’s not right,
but we chase that adrenaline
rush any other way.
That’s why hockey is such a great sport.
Even when I’m lacing up my skates,
my blood pressure’s just pumping like 114
just ’cause I know I’m going out there
and the adrenaline gets going.
And that’s how, like, literally,
there’s no clinical study on it,
but I can tell you as a veteran
that has been a part of
Warrior Hockey since 2013
and helping develop this team,
like the adrenaline is there all the time.
And it’s like, we go to these tournaments
and we fight these battles.
I either-
– Together.
As a team.
– Together.
So it’s like we’re deploying again.
So all these guys, it don’t
matter what branch we’re in,
we’re deploying to these
tournaments as a unit
and we’re going here,
we hang out as a unit,
we win or we lose as a unit,
and it makes the bonds unbreakable.
And that’s why we have Dr. Sachs,
’cause he used to work at
the VA as a psychiatrist.
And you know, we’re not
sitting down at his office
and he’s giving us clinic,
he’s guiding us through
life and helping us out,
making sure that we
don’t blow our heads off.
He’s donating his time. He
doesn’t have to be here.
– [Peter] You’re donating right now?
– Oh, yeah.
– Yeah.
So I’m one of the, what,
two or three civilians that hang out.
I mean, I’ve worked with
military populations
my whole career, but I never served.
– But he gets us.
That’s the problem.
– Yeah.
– He gets us.
I mean, he’s always
there to answer a call.
– I’ve worked with veterans,
I’ve worked with active duty folks,
and like exactly the part
you’re talking about,
the time when people
either retire voluntarily
or they get sat down
because of the bureaucracy.
– Of whatever. Yeah.
– Or sometimes they did
something wrong.
– Politics.
– They got two DUIs.
You know, you get kicked
out, three DUIs, whatever.
But you go from, I mean,
I don’t think this is too
big a stretch to understand,
you go from a very structured life.
For better and for worse.
– Yep.
– The military
is very structured.
You literally are told what
the uniform of the day is.
You’re told what time to be where.
You know, this is your job,
hold your gun this way, do this.
Some people are in for five years,
some people are in for 10
years, 15 years, 20 years,
and it becomes a way of life.
That is a part of who you are.
And if that gets taken away from you,
even if it wasn’t really
taken away, like you get
into a car accident.
– It doesn’t. Yeah.
– And they tell you,
“Okay, you know, you’ve
got a disk problem.”
You’ll keep your rank,
you’ll keep everything,
but still that can be a loss of-
– [Peter] You lose your purpose, right?
– You’ll lose your purpose, you lose
your sense of identity.
– That’s the best way
to describe it.
Loss.
– And then, like if, for some reason,
then you leave that town,
now you’re not even around-
– The military base.
– The base.
– Or the guys.
– Or those guys
that you were friends with.
And so, like that’s part
of what we’re doing here
is recreating a community.
Like this is as important,
if not more important,
than what we’re doing on the outside.
Like this.
– We have our uniforms,
which we respect just like
our uniforms in the military,
but we all have one now,
you know what I’m saying?
– In a way you’re dressing up
all together in the locker room with
the same uniform.
– We all have our
same uniforms.
– Yeah.
– We all-
– Going to
the battle together.
– When you’re there, you’re
sweating, you’re getting hurt,
you’re dragging your
buddies off the ice, you’re-
– The locker room stinks just like being
in a Humvee sure does.
– Just like Iraq.
– Yep. It stinks just like Iraq.
It’s quite unfortunate,
but the reason that we
have to even make these
is because it’s hard to rely on the VA.
You know what I’m saying?
Like, the VA doesn’t take the
best care of the veterans.
And that’s been like that.
It’s known, you know what I mean?
It’s hard, and you can attest to this,
the VA really doesn’t do the
best job of taking care of us.
They will throw pills at us.
I was on blood pressure medicine
to try and help with my PTSD
so that, you know what I mean?
To like help not be elevated.
– Right.
– They’ll feed you all these pills,
and I wasn’t even working
with real psychiatrists.
I was working with like med students.
So I was just a Guineapig
in their little game
of trying to figure out medical school,
which I don’t agree with.
So, I mean, as of now, like,
I don’t take any of the
psychiatric medicine
and I smoke medical marijuana
and I play ice hockey
and I hang out with the boys,
and that’s what keeps me driving on
is knowing that I gotta set something up
for these guys or help.
– Right.
– You know, but it’s not
like the VA helps us out.
They’re not flipping the
bill for any of this,
which they really could.
They really should,
because this is recreational therapy.
– It is 100%.
– By working in the VA for many years,
do you think the VA could do more things
like this versus the pills?
– That’s why you ain’t
working at the VA no more.
– Yeah, so, yeah,
I’ve worked in five or six different VAs.
They’re all different.
I worked at one VA that I did
work with a rec therapist.
I worked on a team that had
psychiatry, psychology, MDs,
PhDs, rec therapist,
and all ideas were like,
“What can we do? Let’s
get the guys to do this.”
It was a PTSD program in California.
I started at the VA 2003, 2004.
So it’s almost 20 years.
One thing that I’ve learned, I mean,
I’ve been playing hockey since I was 10.
I could know you as a human being
in a different way from playing with you.
Like, it’s one thing
for you to say to me,
“I’m a reliable guy.”
– Yeah.
– “You can count on me.
You need anything, you call me up.”
But it’s another thing to see you
busting your coming
back on a three on one.
– Yeah.
– Back check.
Like, there’s something about
the proof in the pudding,
and I feel like there’s an
overlap there with the military.
Like I could tell you,
“Bro, I got your back.
Like anything happens in a fire.”
But then when the bullets
start, like happens,
you see somebody’s true character.
– Yeah.
– All right, guys.
Thanks for coming along on that journey
with the Warrior Panthers.
They are an organization, a nonprofit,
that is taking donations.
Their ice time is quite expensive.
I believe 350 an hour.
They have travel costs,
uniforms, all these things.
All money goes directly to team costs.
So if you wanna leave some
money for these veterans
that are playing hockey,
finding the release through
the puck, link is down below.
And lastly, what I felt the
most out of this was, you know,
everyone’s been through
a similar experience
and they all have each other
and the comradery in community
is very, very important
for mental health and a happy life.
Thanks for coming along,
until the next one.
(smooth rock and roll music)

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