Arkansas State American Legion Riders Director Michael Stambough was part of a contingent of fellow Arkansas ALR members who participated in a Veterans Day event in Little Rock that included the Legion’s Be the One suicide prevention campaign.
It was there he shared why American Legion Post 13 in Hot Springs is teaming with its Riders chapter to take on mental health in its community.
Stambough, a member of both Post and Chapter 13, as well as the department’s District 14 commander, said the post will begin hosting monthly PTSD seminars, with the first one starting Nov. 18. He said events in the past two months led for his desire to start such a program.
“We had a funeral for a Navy lieutenant who (died by) suicide about a month and a half ago,” Stambough said. “The next night, I went over to a friend of (girlfriend Lori Thresher, also a member of Post 13 and Chapter 13) she’s known 40-some years, and he’s been struggling with PTSD for 30-some years. And his wife has always wanted to get him help, and he’s always just said no.
“I woke up at 3 o’clock that morning with a clear vision of starting a PTSD program, because the VA sent me to one 25 years ago, and it changed my life. I just had that urge. I knew exactly how to get it done.”
Stambough said by 5 p.m. the next day the first session already had been set up. It will debut Nov. 18 and will include a VA counselor from the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans' Hospital in Little Rock and one from Ouachita Behavioral & Wellness in Hot Springs. The pastor at Stambough’s church also will be onsite to assist with the counseling, as will Stambough.
“It’s going to be more informational, and a little bit of group therapy mixed in,” Stambough said of the seminars. “My hope is a weekly support group will form out of that. And the seminars are open to anyone with PTSD, not just veterans. ‘There’s a lot of people that didn’t serve that still have PTSD.”
Stambough said what Post and Chapter 13 are planning draws on both The American Legion’s Be the One and Buddy Check programs. “It’s great that we have that going on to check on your buddies, just to make sure they’re OK,” he said. “There’s a lot of great programs coming out of that. This is taking Buddy Checks to another level.
“The Be the One is great, and what I am going to be calling this PTSD seminar is ‘We are the one.’ We’re on the front line doing something.”