For years, Van, a Marine Corps Veterans, maintained a comfortable suburban lifestyle with his wife—paying off his mortgage and working at a marketing firm. Underneath the veneer of stability, however, lurked ghosts from his tour of duty in Beirut, when 299 of his fellow corpsman were killed in an attack on their barracks.
Nightmares began plaguing Van, who withdrew from family, friends, and colleagues. “At that time, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder wasn’t widely known. I was misdiagnosed by doctors for years.” When the economy collapsed, Van’s wife was laid off and his business collapsed.
While his wife and children moved in with a relative, Van continued to wrestle with his demons. “I didn’t have a support system and didn’t understand what was happening. I felt like an alien,” he remembers. Three suicide attempts later, he found himself at the Bellevue Men's Shelter. There, he met a Doe Fund recruitment specialist who helped Van enroll in the Veterans Program.
The Veterans Program provided Van with vital resources like onsite group meetings, medicine effective against PTSD, and training with the Health Buddy monitoring device. Van soon turned a corner. "I learned that there’s nothing wrong with me. I was involved in bad situations that I didn’t create."
Today, Van lives in Staten Island with his wife and is taking the steps toward a Master’s in sociology. “I want to know what causes people to think and behave in certain ways,” he says. "Too many people are hurting and are hiding the pain because they feel they have no one they can trust. The Doe Fund saved my life, and no matter where I go, I know my wellness is here."