DES MOINES, Iowa– An Iowa family that lost a soldier to post-traumatic stress is on a mission to help others in the fight of their lives.
“It’s an injury of war. It’s not a disorder,” explains Lisa Naslund.
The Ida County mother says dropping the D from PTSD lessens the stigma. Her son, US Army SGT Dillion Naslund, was diagnosed with PTS in 2012.
“We really had expected him to come back different from war, but there was no way to prepare for what was to come,” said Naslund.
The 25-year-old soldier served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The depression and the demons from his days of combat followed him home.
Naslund calls post-traumatic stress “the beast” and says it took over her son’s life. He tried to deal with it on his own, but in December 2012, Dillion ended his life.
In the days after his death, Naslund connected with a soldier’s family in California. They were experiencing the same loss and the same grief and Operation Engage America began.
“It’s where we would bring all these resources together for a day so that the soldiers and the veterans and the community members could come to one spot and learn of the resources,” said Naslund.
This Saturday, more than two dozen resources will be on hand at the Iowa State Capitol. Veterans and their families will find information about everything from horse therapy and service dogs to mental health and job services.
Naslund believes these resources could have helped her son.
“We’d do anything to have him back,” she said.
Operation Engage America kicks off at 10 AM. Congressman Steve King, soldiers and veterans will speak in the Capitol Rotunda. The event runs until 3 PM.
A similar resource fair will take place in California Saturday. The goal is to have other states join their mission to support, educate and provide resources for PTS and traumatic brain injury.