- Associated Press - Sunday, April 12, 2015

GREENWOOD, Ind. (AP) - An Indiana support group designed to help veterans recover from the stresses of combat was at risk of ending after losing its top two officials. But a Greenwood man has stepped in to fill the void and keep the program going.

The Indiana Vet to Vet support group meets at 18 sites in central Indiana and gives veterans a place to discuss their war experiences and tips on how to readjust to life back home.

David Ballard, who took over as group president, told the Daily Journal (https://bit.ly/1JkffJo ) that the support groups meet weekly and usually draw four to 15 people. A majority of the veterans return for subsequent meetings, he said.

Ballard, who served with the Navy in Vietnam and the Gulf War, said the meetings are the best way for veterans to heal emotionally.

The meetings last an hour and typically begin with a reading from a self-help book or an article. The group then discusses how the passage made them feel, Ballard said.

The meetings are geared toward veterans who might be closed off from family members and friends or can’t get out of the military mindset, where most actions are done immediately without pausing to think about consequences, he added.

“We try to un-teach the things that the military taught us. And they basically taught us to react without much thinking,” he said.

Ballard, who said he suffers from chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, said that giving back to people has helped him.

Ballard said he hopes to obtain nonprofit status for the group and is expanding meetings to Crawfordsville and South Bend.

Vet to Vet has teamed up with Warrior’s Hope, which also has weekly support groups. Ballard used to volunteer with Warrior’s Hope, which started in 2005 and brings in aspects of religion and spirituality to the support groups.

“We don’t sit around and tell war stories, but there’s a harmony among people who have been there, done that,” Warrior’s Hope founder Loren Minnix said. “Every week, a new person shows up.”

Minnix said more than 150 veterans attended Warrior’s Hop support groups last year.


Information from: Daily Journal, https://www.dailyjournal.net

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