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An organization of vets hopes to increase public awareness of post traumatic stress — article by Scott Keith

Posted Dec 18 2010 8:55pm

A Maui, Hawaii music producer is on a nation-wide mission to raise awareness of a debilitating condition that can strike men and women who serve or have served in our military.

Gresford Lewishall is vice president of Stay Strong Nation, a group of volunteers dedicated to helping servicemen and women cope with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. Statistics reveal that about 8 percent of all Americans have some form of post traumatic stress. That number leaps to 30 percent for veterans and active service personnel. With post traumatic stress, some returning service members take out their feelings on family members. Some fall into substance abuse, while others commit suicide. Lewishall says, “The suicide rate, right now, is very, very high for guys and gals coming home. We have to create awareness for post traumatic stress.” Post traumatic stress can surface the moment a service member returns home or it can present itself a couple of years later. Lewishall notes that traumatic brain injury can occur if a soldier is hit by a roadside bomb or fires a big gun.

Stay Strong Nation is offering a CD of “Stay Strong,” written by Keith Crosby, a decorated Vietnam War vet, and Michael Lietz. In return, you’re asked to return a postcard of support for our troops overseas. Featured vocalist on the CD is Charles Cook, a veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. A country version has just been released, which concludes with a Stay Strong Nation military prayer, written by Gene Rabbai. Stay Strong Nation’s aim is to collect postcards from Americans to send to military personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Lewishall says there’s no charge for the CD, but donations are welcome. You’ll find a postcard with the CD. Lewishall (he likes to be called Lewis) says it’s important to add your name, city and mail back to Stay Strong Nation. With the government’s help, Lewishall hopes to send the postcards of support to hospitals, mess halls and areas where our military forces congregate. “It’s very, very hard being there, in a war zone,” says Lewishall.

The group wants to raise money to build a 20 million dollar facility in Maui that will help military personal cope with post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury through a no-cost therapy-based life-changing program. “We think Maui, or someplace quiet in Hawaii, would be ideal,” says Lewishall, adding that ocean-front property is preferred to provide a more relaxing atmosphere for service members.”We’ll have doctors teach them how to re-enter society.”

Lewishall, a native of Jamaica who moved to the United States in 1978, says his organization hopes to have members in all 50 states. “It’s not about war, it’s about the guys and gals who have to go over there, give up their family, and put their lives in harms way.”

For more information on how you can obtain the CD of “Stay Strong” and postcard, go to   www.staystrongnation.org.


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