Hometown hero finds help after the trauma of war
BONHAM, Texas — You don’t always know the heroes among you, but they’re all around us.
In Bonham, Colt Floyd doesn’t consider himself a hero, but the medals hanging on his living room wall say otherwise.
“It’s certainly a sense of pride,” he said.
Floyd served two tours in Afghanistan — one of which turned into a rescue mission resulting in the death of one of their comrades.
“That was… I don’t know… kind of a horror story for me,” he said.”
An account of that mission was made into a documentary film called “Citizen Soldier.”
But Floyd said he and his men struggled to return to a normal way of life. Floyd turned to alcohol for relief.
“My biggest struggle was the drinking, and trying to suppress whatever was going on in my head,” he said. Floyd found he was heading down a dangerous path of multiple run-ins with the law, so he went into treatment at the VA hospital in Bonham, where therapists try to help veterans open up and be honest about their traumatic experiences.
“They teach you how to go to war, they teach you what to expect, they teach you to fight like you train,” said Floyd’s therapist, Alicia Wright. “But when you come home… they do not teach you that.”
According to recent studies by the Department of Veterans Affairs, there’s been an increase in ex-soldier suicide rates in the U.S. — almost 22 every day, on average.
“For some folks — just like avoidance becomes something that they do — chronically thinking about ending their life is also something that they do,” Wright explained.
While veteran suicide in Texas is below the national average, Oklahoma has one of the highest veteran suicide rates due to drugs, alcohol and post-traumatic stress disorder.
More than 23,000 vets live in the Grayson County area alone, and therapists say most are not aware of the resources available to help with post-war trauma.
“It’s people that avoid coming in for treatment until there is an issue in front of them that they can no longer avoid,” Wright said.
After finishing in-patient therapy, Colt Floyd became the first veteran to go through the North Texas Veterans’ Court program, which offers multiple resources to veterans in Grayson, Fannin, Collin, Rockwall and Kaufman counties in order to help with their reintegration process.
Judge John Roach said there is hope through their program. “It’s a matter of life or death,” he said. “We have graduates there that say, ‘If it wasn’t for Veterans Court, I’d be dead.'”
And for Floyd, graduating from the court with a clean slate, free from war’s burden was a victory worth more than any medal.
“Some of those images and the trauma, I know that it will never leave me,” he said. “But with the tools and some therapy and talking about things, there is light at the end of the tunnel.”