NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Veterans wear the uniform to serve our country, but their service doesn’t have to stop when they leave the military.
An Air Force veteran is proving that to be true, by helping her fellow veterans through some of the most traumatic events of their lives.
“When you’re sitting in the emotions all day, everyday, how do you function? You can’t, not effectively,” said Dr. Janell Royster.
That was the lesson about trauma Royster learned while serving in the Air Force.
“One of the things I was struggling with was shame and guilt from my best friend’s suicide. She was a veteran,” said Royster. “I wasn’t allowed to go to her funeral because I had to be back to my permanent duty station because I was still active duty Air Force, so I held that for about 25 years.”
She saw many doctors who diagnosed her with complex PTSD and gave her a variety of medications. That didn’t work and she realized something had to change.
“I decided to seek help,” said Royster. “I figured ‘doctor heal thyself,’ right? Go back to school, get your masters in mental health counseling.”
Royster has now developed a new way to process trauma, called the ‘Trauma Recovery Intervention Protocol,’ or TRIP.
“So what we do is we go before the trauma ever happened,” Royster said. “What were you doing when you were safe before this event happened? What were you doing when you were safe after?”
Unlike many traditional forms of therapy, TRIP doesn’t ask veterans to revisit every single traumatic event they’ve ever experienced.
That change made all the difference for Marine Corps Veteran Michael Murray.
“It wasn’t doing anything for me to have to re-live those events over and over,” said Murray. “To me, it was keeping me in a state of trauma.”
Murray is a retired Marine Infantry Officer and was medevaced out of Afghanistan in 2012.
“I was having a tough time with anger, sleeplessness, anxiety, outbursts, depression,” Murray said. “After the hour, about an hour and a half I spent with Dr. Royster, I slept for 12 hours and after that, my ability to focus, to work, to regulate my emotions, so many things changed.”
Murray founded a nonprofit, Liberty OVE, to help veterans and first responders. Now, he and Royster are working together to spread TRIP across the country.
“We want to train others to do this,” said Royster.
Their mission is to lower the veteran suicide rate, through training and talking.
“A traumatic event happens within seconds,” Royster said. “Why can’t you solve the problem within minutes?”
Liberty OVE has 30 clinicians nationwide, so if you need help, visit their website to learn more. You can also learn more about sponsoring a TRIP training event by visiting their website.