Saturday, October 15, 2011

About me

I'm the founder of a non-profit organization, a former Federal Air Marshal and Iraqi War Vet, and I'm a MORMON.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Marine Iraqi War Vet & Police Officer Goes Public, Admitting PTSD

The name Warrior SOS came about after I received a brief text message from my long time friend and warrior-buddy, J.P. Villont. He sent a note, an SOS. SOS is an international distress signal. In morse code it is: ... --- ...

S.O.S. is the clarion call for H-E-L-P!

Upon getting JP’s message, I immediately called him. I asked him if he had thought about suicide or had thought about killing himself. Many years ago, in FBI Crisis Negotiation school, I learned that asking someone if they’re thinking about suicide won’t put the idea in their mind; they won’t do it if you ask, in other words. I also learned that sometimes people do not equate suicide with killing themselves, and vice versa, so I began a habit to ask both questions if I sensed any distressing signals appertaining to such a total and complete despair.

Thankfully, with the help of J.P.’s loving and supportive wife, and caring counselors at the VA, he’s been able to get help and healing. Often signs of Post Traumatic Stress and other combat related emotional frustrations, come in the way of fits of anger. J.P. is no exception. Recognizing and admitting there’s a problem is the first step. There are many people willing and anxious to help.

As a personal note to J.P., I simply wish to say: I sure love you, brother. Keep the faith! Fight the good fight. You’re a good man.

Warrior SOS also wishes to thank retired Delta Force Commander, DALTON FURY (, for signing a copy of his NY Times’ best-selling book, Kill Bin Laden for J.P. Villont. (As a side note, any readers should definitely be sure to check out Dalton's new fictional Delta Force Novel, Black Site.

Once again, Warrior SOS applauds the great courage of J.P. and his wife Lisa for going public, and agreeing to be interviewed with Stars & Stripes, a military newspaper. By courageously going public to discuss difficult, personal heartaches and heartbreaks surrounding PTSD, hundreds - if not thousands - of military veterans and their family members will likewise find the courage to seek help; others in similar circumstances will be comforted by the fact that they are not alone.

A portion of the article/interview, follows:

JP Villont’s Story as Reported by Stars & Stripes

Story by Matthew M. Burke, Stars & Stripes, published Sept. 23, 2011

Marine Cpl. J.P. Villont returned from Iraq a broken man.

The married father of four was angry, paranoid, hyper-vigilant, aggressive and withdrawn — telltale signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Yet, for seven years, the former Marine was reluctant to seek help.

“Obviously I had PTSD and it was undiagnosed,” Villont, 40, said recently from his Phoenix home. “It’s a huge stigma, so I didn’t want to find that out. I pretended I didn’t have it for many years.”

Then, following a couple of violent outbursts, Villont finally contacted a few veterans facilities in Arizona. He was told he would have to wait months for treatment.

With seemingly nowhere to turn, his wife, Lisa, starting posting messages on the Wounded Warrior Project’s Facebook page.
“Its been over 7 years since my husband returned home from Iraq, just last week he finally decided to seek help for what we assume will be diagnosed as PTSD,” she wrote...

Lisa Villont is convinced that [a volunteer with the Wounded Warrior Project’s] actions helped save her husband’s life.

“I can tell you, there is little doubt in my mind that if we had not encountered WWP ... I would be a widow today,” Lisa Villont said.

“He absolutely, positively, would have found a way to kill himself.”
...Finding others with similar problems was the key for J.P. Villont.

In 2003, the infantryman was attached to the 1st Tank Battalion as a machine gunner during the invasion of Iraq. His unit fought its way through Basra, all the way to Baghdad.

“We were in direct combat with the Republican Guard — their tank battalion,” the soft-spoken Villont recalled. “I was with 60 tanks so we were rocking and rolling. I saw a lot of destruction.”

In the middle of his tour, he went on leave to be with his then-pregnant wife who required an emergency surgery in a California hospital.

He rode out of Baghdad with two body bags next to him.

Villont was supposed to have 10 days of leave before heading back to war. But, word came down that his unit had accomplished their mission and that he was no longer needed in Iraq.

“That was pretty surreal,” he said. “Like the Vietnam vets, I went directly from combat back into civilian life.”
He left the Marines and returned to his job in law enforcement.

Not long after, his troubles began.

First, he assaulted a neighbor who shot bottle rockets toward his home in the middle of the night; Villont said it triggered a flashback. He was later jailed for a morning after a domestic disturbance last year. which triggered a six-month investigation. He was cleared after no charges were filed. He was then allowed back to work.

Finally, he sought help but was unsuccessful, and his wife reached out to the web community.

After reading Lisa Villont’s postings, [Jennifer] Boyce, [with the Wounded Warrior Project] referred the couple to local services and a Project Odyssey retreat with fellow vets. The retreat offered outdoor activities and the companionship of fellow combat veterans, plus counselors.

At first, Villont resisted. But after talking with other vets, he decided to give it a shot.

“I didn’t want to sit around hugging each other singing ‘Kumbaya,’” he said. “But it was me and seven other vets. We clicked immediately. It was a breath of life.”

Now, J.P. Villont exchanges texts, calls, emails and Facebook messages with the other veterans he has met.

He uses social media to monitor legislation and find other outreach organizations, and he received a scholarship from the University of Phoenix to get a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling so he can help other veterans. Villont is retiring from his job as a highway patrolman at the Arizona Department of Public Safety due to injuries from an on-duty crash in March.

Although he is not cured, J.P. Villont no longer ruins family outings because of his outbursts. He’s learned he has certain “triggers” — his wife calls it his “Spidey” senses — and needs to stop before he reacts to them, to ask why he feels threatened. Villont just got out of a 24-day inpatient PTSD clinic in Tucson and is looking forward to starting school in October, thanks to the single post his wife made a few months ago.

“It’s been a pretty amazing asset,” Villont said. “You’re able to learn about this stuff from your computer. ... Once you start opening doors there is no end to this stuff.”