Heroes Haven Saves Soldier, Family From Toll Of PTSD

Sep 17, 2020, 6:47 PM | Updated: Sep 18, 2020, 4:52 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq took a toll on many of the soldiers who live among us in our communities.

Some now struggle with the unseen wounds of war, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and suicidal thoughts.

A Utah combat veteran, still serving in the Utah Army National Guard, recently broke down some of the barriers to his healing process.

Combat Veteran Luda Siliga is able to enjoy life again after he sought treatment for PTSD.

“I didn’t think anything was wrong,” said Specialist Luda Siliga, but his wife, Hillarie, knew there was. “She kind of pushed me to go and take a step back.”

When Siliga plays with his kids at home, roughhousing is the favorite game. His young children crawl all over him, and the big, athletic soldier scoops them up, and tickles them as they laugh and squeal. He comes from a big family, and those bonds are his top priority.

In recent years, Siliga said he lost track of the man he used to be.

“I didn’t see it, but she did,” he said, looking at his wife.

“He got to the point where he couldn’t even get out of bed for two months,” she said.

Siliga has served full-time with the Utah National Guard over 13 years and deployed twice to Afghanistan. He now admits he was angry all the time and didn’t know why, and neither did his wife or kids.

He never realized the true impact of his combat experience. The soldier had nightmares but thought that was normal. He had thought about suicide, too.

“The depression and the anxiety, it was just crippling for him,” said Hillarie.

She was pretty sure he had PTSD and told him to get help. She was the one who called the Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs Medical Center to get him an appointment for an assessment.

Siliga said His wife gave him an ultimatum. “She told me this is literally your last chance.”

They didn’t talk a lot about it and start making real progress until Siliga learned new tools at a week-long camp in Park City put on by the Heroes Haven.

“I knew nothing about military before him, and we didn’t talk much about it until just recently,” said Hillarie. “We really started to communicate.”

The soldier said her support is the most important part of his recovery.

“She kind of lets me have the episode for a minute,” he said. “It lets me calm down for a little bit.”

Heroes Haven was Siliga’s first serious effort at healing, and from the moment he arrived, he knew he was where he needed to be.

“I’m able to be vulnerable, and actually talk to her about certain issues,” he said.

The healing, and their growth as a couple is still fresh.

“He came back, and all the potential that I’ve ever seen in him, he finally sees in himself, and he’s putting it to work all of a sudden,” said Hillarie.

Both agree that Siliga is more positive and optimistic, and less likely to get angry about things.

“The Heroes Haven saved his life, and saved our marriage,” she said.

At Heroes Haven, Siliga discovered he wasn’t the only one struggling with PTSD. He learned how to better understand his traumas from war and put them in better perspective for continuing life.

When he got home from Heroes Haven, Hillarie started to learn new tools to communicate with her husband to be supportive.

“I’ve learned to be more gentle, and he has learned to talk more,” she said.

Getting him to open up was the hardest part. “It was hard for me to even open up when it comes to military stuff because she hasn’t been down that path,” said Siliga.

He now understands she doesn’t need to know all of those things to support him. Yet, they both know they have a long journey together and more work to do. “It’s still new. It’s still very new,” she said.

They both feel good about where they are headed. “Every day is a new obstacle we have to overcome,” said the soldier.

“I think the difference is that we’re excited to work on it now,” said Hillarie.

They urge others who are struggling to reach out for help.

For more information and resources visit

 If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255, or chat online at  

Suicide Prevention Resources

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or exhibiting warning signs, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Additional Crisis Hotlines

  • Utah County Crisis Line: 801-226-4433
  • Salt Lake County/UNI Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
  • Wasatch Mental Health Crisis Line: 801-373-7393
  • National Suicide Prevention Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741-741
  • Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386
  • University Of Utah Crisis Interventional Crisis Line: 801-587-300

Online resources

In an emergency

  • Call the police
  • Go to the emergency room
KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Healthy Mind Matters

Ayanna Likens

Coming together on International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

While the loss of a loved one is always difficult, losing someone to suicide can add another level of pain to your grief. Saturday is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day — a chance for families to come together for healing and support.
14 days ago
Karah Brackin

Huntsman Mental Health partners with The Ad Council in multi-million dollar initiative

The Huntsman Mental Health Institute is teaming up with The Ad Council in an effort to reshape the conversations around mental health and help millions of Americans when they need it most.
22 days ago
(KSL TV)...
Karah Brackin

How an emoji can help people struggling with their mental health

Now, maybe more than ever, communities have focused on mental health and the importance of taking care of yourself. 
1 month ago
(Mark Wetzel/KSL TV)...
Alex Cabrero

Widow of fallen Utah officer using experience to help others heal

Prioritizing our mental health no longer carries the negative stigma it used to, but it all starts with getting help. A Utah County woman who lost her husband in the line of duty eight years ago knows about as well as anyone how important this is.
2 months ago
(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)...
Karah Brackin

Gov. Cox warns of social media impact on teen mental health

Gov. Spencer Cox spoke with parents, teachers, and community leaders in Holladay Monday about the negative impact social media has had on the mental health of teens.
2 months ago
Jed Boal

Experts recommend screening kids for mental health issues

A national health task force now recommends that pediatricians screen kids for mental health issues as early as eight years old.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Heroes Haven Saves Soldier, Family From Toll Of PTSD