REBOOT Combat Recovery is a new approach to helping veterans and their families cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), said former Sedalia native John Dale, 35, a Smith-Cotton High School graduate.
The recovery program that began in 2011 at the Warrior Training Unit at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, is a nonprofit organization that now has seven sites. Dale, who is director of operations and Washington, D.C., area coordinator, said the program helps vets and their families not only deal with physical recovery, but assists in their spiritual recovery.
“We help veterans and their families find healing from the spiritual wounds of war,” said Dale, who was was a staff sergeant and served in the Army National Guard from 2000 to 2008.
According to statistics, 22 veterans or active military members commit suicide every day; Dale hopes to see this number decline. He added that the program approaches PTSD recovery differently.
“We come at it from the perspective of there are some wounds that happens to veterans, some things that always don’t get dealt with, in the recovery process, when they come home,” he said. “Things like forgiveness.”
He said soldiers struggle with forgiving themselves and struggle with coming to terms with the things they had to do while in combat situations.
“How do I forgive my teammates for mistakes they made that cost another teammate their life?” he added. “How can I forgive my enemy for killing my buddies? That is one area that we help them walk through.”
Another area REBOOT addresses is grief.
“Acknowledging that grief is OK and that process is healthy to walk through,” he said. “Some of those things that aren’t really a symptom of PTSD, but are things that might be playing into that. Our goal to the veterans and their families is to get to the point where their quality of life is improved, and definitely bring that number of 22 suicides a day down. Even one is unacceptable.”
Dale said when he came back home, he too suffered from PTSD.
“That has been something that has been a struggle for awhile now,” he added. “I’ve actually gotten to the point now where I’m starting to feel halfway human again. I feel like there’s been a lot of life breathed back into me; that’s a really good place for me to be. I’m really thankful for the healing that I’ve experienced so far. The symptoms are not totally gone and I don’t know if they will ever go away, but my quality of life has improved a whole lot. I’m thankful for that.”
Some of his recovery has been due to REBOOT and some of it is due to counseling.
The REBOOT program features a 12-week “recovery course” that is at no cost to the participants.
“They meet in a group setting, it could be in someone’s home,” Dale said. “Or in a meeting room on a military base. We have an established curriculum that we use. It’s in a group environment, so there’s community that’s built there. It’s a safe place to share these things and to walk with each other through this recovery period.”
There are seven sites for REBOOT: Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Clarksville, Tennessee, Nashville, Tennessee, and Ardmore, Oklahoma.
“We’re going to be starting up a new group at Fort Belvoir back here in Virginia,” he added. “Probably in the fall. Fort Belvoir is significant for us because on Army posts they have what is called a Warrior Transition Unit. It’s a unit where soldiers that are in the field that get hurt, they come back and are dispatched to the unit. They go through recovery, physical and mental, and when they get to the point where they are recovered enough they either go back out to their line unit or they get medically retired. That is really how REBOOT got its start. They started at the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Campbell.”
He added that REBOOT Recovery was very much needed at Fort Belvoir.
To begin a REBOOT locally, Dale said in the past they would have a training team come and train people that were interested. Soon that process will be easier.
“We have a new model that’s almost finished,” he added. “We’re hopefully going to roll that out in the fall or next year, where there’s going to be an online resource platform. We are going to have training videos and all the curriculum online and we will no longer need to physically travel to an area to train anybody. They can get all those resources online and pretty much have a group wherever they want.”
Dale began volunteering with the program in November of last year and then decided to work for REBOOT full-time in April, leaving a position at the Department of Homeland Security to do so.
With the help of his wife, Sarah Dale, he raised money for his salary so he would not need to be paid by REBOOT for his position.
“This was a really good career change for me,” he added. “I really enjoy this job. I feel like I have a purpose and I haven’t felt that for a long time. It’s very fulfilling to use my time to help other people.”
For more information on REBOOT Combat Recovery, contact Dale at 703-789-7181 or visit rebootrecovery.com.
Reach Faith Bemiss at 826-1000 ext. 1481 or @flbemiss