Monday, October 09, 2017

TOP STORY >> Peer group for combat veterans

Leader staff writer

Since 2006, there have been 1,100 troops have committed suicide. In 2009, 245 soldiers killed themselves. On average, five active-duty troops attempt suicide daily. One-third of the nation’s homeless are veterans. One in three returning troops are being diagnosed with serious post-traumatic stress symptoms. Less than 40 percent will seek help. These statistics are according to the PTSD Foundation of America website.

The PTSD Foundation of America works to help combat veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress symptoms. Three Arkansans are working to bring that help here.

David Gordy and Derek Barker, both of Jonesboro, and Gary Miranda of Brookland, have set up Warrior Groups in Jonesboro, Searcy and now Jacksonville.

Warrior groups are for combat veterans and their families to meet with peers and share their experiences. While the groups are not treatment programs, they offer support and guidance to help heal, balance and create positive reintegration with families and society.

Jacksonville’s group will hold its second meeting from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19 at Hope Lutheran Church in Jacksonville. The group meets every third Tuesday of the month.
Gordy has been managing director of the PTSD Foundation Arkansas Chapter for two years.

“We are trying to spread our peer support (Warrior) groups across the state. We thought that Jacksonville will be a good fit for our group because of the Air Force base there and the amount of veterans that are in the area,” Gordy said.

“We have had one meeting in Jacksonville already, but we did not have any veterans come. We understand that it is a process to starting these groups and that it takes time, so we are not discouraged at all by that. The other groups that we have in the state right now are in Searcy and Jonesboro, but we are going to continue to start groups in other towns.”

Gordy is a combat veteran himself, having served in the Army Infantry. He deployed with the 25th Infantry Division to Iraq in January 2004 and returned in February 2005.

“I do have PTSD from my deployment,” he said. “The PTSD Foundation of America has helped me with my PTSD. Gary and I both decided to become part of the PTSD Foundation of America together.”

Miranda, who serves as chief veteran coordinator for the PTSD Foundation of America’s Arkansas Chapter, is also a combat veteran. He served in Iraq with the Marine Corps in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
Barker, who serves as the chapter’s veteran resource coordinator, served in Army Special Operations and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gordy and Miranda met on Twitter, bonding over Arkansas State football and the military. “We both had similar experiences with the VA support groups here in northeast Arkansas,” Gordy said.

“The groups were not what we were looking for because they were more social events than working on issues. I called him one night in 2014 because I was struggling with issues from PTSD. We decided that we would start to get together once in a while to talk about things,” he said. 

“The conversation went from there to ‘we cannot be the only veterans in the area that need something,’ so we decided to do some research on PTSD peer support groups. I found the PTSD Foundation of America online and sent them an email asking about their warrior groups. They said that if we could come to Camp Hope in Houston that they would teach us how to run groups. Gary and I carved out two weeks at the end of April 2014 and went to Houston to learn how to run groups,” Gordy said.

For more information on the PTSD Foundation of America or its Arkansas chapter, contact David Gordy at 870-273-2838 or or Gary Miranda at 870-882-2887 or You can also visit the organization’s website at