Utah Program Helping Veterans Win War Against PTSD

Aug 17, 2020, 8:21 PM | Updated: 8:26 pm

PARK CITY, Utah – An estimated 800,000 American troops struggle with PTSD after deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq over the last two decades, and a Utah program called Heroes Haven is working to help those veterans.

The impacts of PTSD can also be heightened during the pandemic for some soldiers.

“The honor, that purpose and sense of accomplishment,” said Zach Howser, citing the most important aspects of his six years of service in the army.

The Provo native was in ROTC class in high school when the attacks on 9/11 stunned the country, and he decided that he had to serve.

Before long, he was a combat engineer, hunting and clearing roadside bombs in Iraq.

“We saw a lot of combat,” said Howser. “There was a lot of weapons exchanged. There was a lot of improvised explosive devices (IED) going off.”

His vehicle took several hits, and he did not feel adequately trained for the aftermath when the nightmares started.

“There’s that pride aspect where we don’t want to ask for that help,” said Howser. “We’re the ones who are supposed to be tough enough to go do that and deal with it.”

He contacted Heroes Haven to get help.

“My children deserve who I used to be,” he said.

This week, he was on a mission for healing with a dozen other Utah combat veterans at the National Ability Center in Park City. They’re soul-searching, doing therapy and learning psychological tools to take home.

Veterans participate in activities with Heroes Haven in Park City.

“We’re healing and learning to take responsibility for trauma that has happened in our lives,” said Frank DeVito, founder of Heroes Haven.

Trauma related to their lives at war, and at home.

DeVito said he takes a ceremonious approach, including a self-discovery walk at a labyrinth, where the veterans symbolically leave their combat demons behind.

“We bring back things that are not ready to be received by the people who sent us there,” DeVito said.

There is no initiation that shows troops how to handle that and deal with those issues back at home, he said.

DeVito’s group has developed initiations to help the troops cross a threshold in healing.

“We’re bringing them home with all that they brought home with them, so that they can assimilate it properly,” he said.

The therapy, meditation and group activities, like walking the labyrinth in Park City, are all part of breaking down the barriers to recovery. Ultimately, each of the soldiers has to do the self-discovery and internal work on their own.

“It’s helping a lot,” said Luda Siliga, a soldier with the Utah National Guard who did two tours of duty in Afghanistan. “When I came back from my first deployment, we didn’t have this. We had a behavioral health guy who said ‘Here’s my card. If you need help just call me.’”

Siliga is still a member of the Utah National Guard.

Three years ago, he said he was not willing to ask for help. Now, because he is honest with his family and himself, he is doing the work to get better.

“It is OK to ask for help,” he said. “It is OK to lean on other guys, and you’re not the only one. There are other guys who deal with the same situations.”

They are helping each other just as they did on the battlefield.

“You’re integrating greatness back into the community,” said DeVito. “They are going to help shepherd and lead children and men and women into the future.”

Reach out for help with PTSD at theheroeshaven.com.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Matt Rascon, KSL TV

Pleasant Grove tattoo artist used work to help others before her murder

A mother who police say was shot and killed by her son in Pleasant Grove Thursday night, used her artwork as a tattoo artist to help others heal from past trauma.
1 day ago
USA Climbing competition in SLC on May 21st, 2022...
Alex Cabrero, KSL TV

World’s best climbers in SLC for competition

It's the perfect time for Salt Lake to be at the forefront of the sport’s popularity.
1 day ago
(Davis County Sheriff's Office)...
Merri Moeller, KSL TV

Murder suspect wished he’d used sharper knife in stabbings, court docs say

A man in custody after stabbing two women including a woman he’d met on Tinder made some chilling statements about the attacks to police, court documents show.
1 day ago
The scene of the South Jordan paraglider accident....
Michael Houck, KSL TV

Man flown to hospital in South Jordan skydiving accident

One man is in critical condition due to a skydiving accident on Saturday afternoon according to officials.
1 day ago
SLCPD confiscated an air soft gun after reports of the suspect pointing a rifle at people. (Photo: ...
Michael Houck, KSK TV

Salt Lake City officers respond to person pointing rifle at people

Salt Lake City police responded to multiple calls of a person pointing a rifle at people Friday night, only to find it was an airsoft gun.
1 day ago
Two men dead, three hospitalized after a North Ogden pursuit (Credit - North Ogden Police)...
Michael Houck, KSL TV

Two dead, three hospitalized after a North Ogden pursuit

Two men are dead after fleeing from a traffic stop and crashing into a tree in North Ogden Saturday morning, according to North Ogden police.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Make Money Online Easily...

4 Ways that You Can Make Money Online Easily in Just a Few Clicks

Here are 4 ways that you can make money online easily in no time at all! Some are as simple as just a few clicks away.
tips to winterize your home...
Bonneville Digital SLC

Tips to Winterize Your Home | The Top 5 Ways You Can Prepare for the Cold Utah Winter Ahead

Before the snow hits, here are the top 5 tips to winterize your home to prepare for the cold Utah winter this year.
Utah Program Helping Veterans Win War Against PTSD