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Renewal center to help veterans with PTSD and other issues

PHOENIX -- The Franciscan Renewal Center in Paradise Valley is about to host a retreat for military veterans who have physical and emotional wounds.

Army veteran Dave Campbell is coming to the retreat for the second straight year. He served in Desert Storm more than 20 years ago.

"I spend nine months and I enjoyed it," Campbell said, "except for the [post-traumatic stress disorder]."

That has been hell. Campbell has nightmares every night, and has even been arrested because of it.

"I ended up in a padded jail cell because I lost my mind driving," Campbell said. "I was having a PTSD episode. DPS pulled me over, and I started yelling I'm going to kill, and I'm going to rip your throats out.'"

He was in jail for two days. When he was released, he decided to get help. Campbell was able to open up about his problems with other veterans at last year's Healing Journey retreat.

Campbell said that talking with other veterans was just like they were all together in a platoon.

"If you're in a platoon environment, and everybody's talking about the same issues, it makes it very easy for everybody to bring it all out," he said.

This year's retreat will be led by Michael Lapsley, an Anglican priest from South Africa. He said he feels called to minister to the injured because he is one of them.

He lost both hands and an eye when a bomb inside a letter exploded as he opened it. It was during South Africa's Anti-Apartheid Movement in 1990.

As for what is happening here in the U.S., Lapsley says that it's not just the military veterans who are hurting.

"Because of the United States' addiction to war, unending war, families in communities all over this country are affected," said Lapsley.

And the veterans have various problems.

"There are many people who may not have PTSD, but they still have unfinished business from the war," Lapsley said. "There's a discourse that people are speaking about, both spiritual and moral injury."

The retreat will host 24 veterans at the retreat at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Paradise Valley starting this weekend.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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