New program helping veterans find 'Victory Over Trauma'

(WEAU) – It’s estimated there are more than 22 million veterans in this country and many of them have to deal with a number of issues as they adapt to a different life back home.

The new program called “Victory Over Trauma” in Eau Claire is a collaboration of Soft Landing Transitional Services, a home for safe and sober living, Trinity Equestrian Center and REACH, a self employment service.

It has taken nearly two years to develop, but through a developmental grant it’s already helping veterans recover from trauma.

"It’s really helped all avenues of my life completely,” said U.S Air Force Veteran Ray Lenzen.

45 year-old Ray Lenzen is just one of many other veterans seeing success through ‘Victory Over Trauma.’

"I knew Toni's program was growing and our agency REACH was looking at an opportunity to serve veterans,” said Maralene Strom, Project Director.

"We connected with Trinity and project REACH and that provided a real comprehensive program and we saw good results from the people involved," said Steven Ashmore, Soft Landing Transitional Services.

While Ray has been a victim to alcoholism, he finds spending time with horses is helpful.

After only a month and a half he found a job at Anderson Windows and is adapting to his new life.

“Right now I'm taking everything in, dealing with different issues as they come up,” said Ray.

Once a week, program leaders meet one on one with a veteran and each other.

"They have given us so much, and so far beyond what they should have ever been called to give, it’s truly our honor to help them back," said Toni Mattson of Trinity Equestrian Center.

Veterans will spend about 3-4 weeks at each step before moving onto the next bite of the program what leaders refer to as a sandwich.

"We have designed this program to be a collaborative and to intersect each other rather than being separate, so that we can serve these veterans much more effectively," said Maralene.


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  • by Barb Location: Chippewa Falls, WI on Apr 1, 2012 at 08:53 PM
    I have known Ray for 2-3 years. Recently,I have witnessed a positive change in his perspective on life. Thank you for offering him such a wonderful opportunity to heal. He is healing now in a way I have never seen him do. He is beginning to embrace life!!!!
  • by Geo Location: Eau Claire on Mar 30, 2012 at 05:43 AM
    When I came home from Viet Nam I was called a baby killer, treated like dirt. No Gov. help, no programs to help. Now the men & woman returning home from fighting are called "heros".Just becouse they were in a so called war (like Viet Nam) doesn't make them heros. A hero is that special soldier, not everyone who goes to fight or sit around for a year. It's nice to see Vets getting help, but a little last for a lot of other Vets.
    • reply
      by Anon on Apr 5, 2012 at 09:33 PM in reply to Geo
      I'm sorry you weren't treated with the respect you deserve, Geo., when you returned home from Viet Nam! It was a travesty that your entire generation were treated as they were. I just wanted to thank you for your service, and hope that you are able to heal, after all these years.
  • by Earl on Mar 30, 2012 at 01:37 AM
    Thank you Reach
  • by costinkc Location: coloma,wisconsin on Mar 29, 2012 at 07:18 PM
    whether its helping troubled teens,scarred vets or struggling friends Bro ashi only knows unconditional acceptance and modeling. he has been there done that, whatever it is. He doesnt use this as a distancing phenomena but rather to offer a helping hand and a belief that a person can do it. Your area has a resource of unique vision, congrats Bro.
  • by marilyn Location: Vestal, New York on Mar 29, 2012 at 04:33 PM
    Wow, am so proud of this program and all the hard work Steven AShmore and his collegues have provided to helping ALL people....Congratulations for a job well done...
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