PTSD treatment Bravemind set to deploy in Texas

A cutting edge treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is about to be deployed in Texas.

It has the promise to change and save lives as the military deals with a suicide rate that the Department of Veterans affairs at one point put at 22 veterans a day.

After five tours of duty the echoes of Iraq and Afghanistan still haunt Christopher Araujo.

"For me coming home, I had a hard time adjusting," Christopher said.
Even though his missions are over now, he goes into battle every day.

"I do," Christopher said.{} "I do. In my mind, little things trigger memories.{} I can remember friends that I've lost."

He realized he needed help.

"I got diagnosed with PTSD," Christopher said.

Soon veterans like Christopher will have a cutting edge option to help them face their demons head on.

"It's stunning how real this environment can be," said University of Southern California President C.L. Max Nikias.

The Department of Defense in cooperation with the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies and some Hollywood expertise developed an immersive virtual reality program called "Bravemind" to help treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Which is very personalized, very individualized for every one of the veterans," Nikias said.

Veterans wear virtual reality goggles combined with 3-D sound. The system even emits the actual smells of the desert, sweat and the vibration rumble of a Humvee.

"They are very, very realistic," Nikias said.

It's called exposure therapy where veterans are asked to recreate from memory their most traumatic experiences.{} Then that's programed into the computer, dates, times, scenery, gunfire and explosions. Every session is monitored by a clinician or doctor.

"It has been proven that if the veteran experiences that terrified phenomenon again and again and again then the symptoms of PTSD decay with time," Nikias said.

Christopher says this therapy seems intense and may not be for everyone. But, he also sees hope in the new technology.

"As long as we're advancing the technology and we're advancing the research into helping overcome PTSD," Christopher said.{} "I think we're on the right track."

As for Christopher, he's in a better place now.

"I'm still not a 100-percent but I've learned coping skills," Christopher said.{} "I've learned how to manage it and how to live a productive life now."

But, it's something Christopher says you can't ignore.
"It's like a car," Christopher said.

"You've got to maintain your mind and your body and go for check-ups and I do that.{} And I have a great support network.{} I have individuals that I can talk to who understand and get what I went through that have walked in my shoes."

Bravemind is expected to be deployed at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland this summer.