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Metro organization works to treat post-traumatic stress while reducing the stigma

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Eight percent of Americans are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, more than 24 million people according to PTSD United.

And while veterans are widely affected, first responders and even non-emergency workers are also suffering. There is a group working to help those in the metro and beyond going through the battle.

Justin Hoover was stationed in Iraq in the United States Army from 2003 to 2006, and when he got back to the states, he thought he was doing just fine. But Hoover said his wife noticed something was different, and she encouraged him to go through the program for post-traumatic stress with Warriors Ascent.

“If you take any ordinary person and put them in an extraordinary position, then they’re going to have moral injuries as a result,” Hoover said.

Warriors Ascent treats “PTS” and drops the “D” for disorder to reduce the stigma – and treats it as a moral injury.

“It is a moral injury. Moral injuries, like physical injuries, if you break your arm, your arm heals.  This is the same way, once you regain that frontal cortex and executive function, then you`re kind of healing.  So it`s not necessarily a lifelong disorder,” Hoover described.

For five days, veterans and first responders get the tools they need to heal their PTS.

“We use tools like meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and that really reverses and rewires the brain- and gives you the executive focus in the frontal cortex,” Hoover said.

And the program lets veterans and first responders know that they`re not weak and they`re not alone.

“So we`ve come to find everyone has a breaking point. You`re talking about special forces guys, infantry guys, Marines, SWAT guys, so these are some pretty tough dudes and dudettes,” said Mike Kenny, Warriors Ascent executive director.

And for these so-called tough people, it can be hard to ask for help, but help is there and one local group is even running the Leadville Marathon - known to many as the most challenging marathon in the country- to show their support.

“It`s symbolic of those who go through Post Traumatic Stress and recover from it for two reasons: one -  endurance, we picked a race that has ultra-endurance, we go from 10,200 feet to 13,185 feet, so not your normal marathon,” said Anthony Hoffman, who is running Leadville for PTS awareness.

"The second thing is team; we have a team of 10 and we run it together as a team.”

And as a team- Warriors Ascent organizers hope more people fight PTS for veterans, first responders, and others, and reduce the stigma that often affects the world`s bravest citizens.