Tulsa Iraq War Veteran: PTSD Treatment Saved My Life

Wednesday, March 2nd 2011, 5:50 pm
By: News On 6

Tara Vreeland, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Oklahoma military veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder could soon get treatment if they're convicted of a crime. On Tuesday, legislation that could help passed out of House committee.

One local veteran says the treatment he's received saved his life.

The horrors of war still haunt two-time Iraq war veteran Tony Clum.

"We go out there, and we are trained depending on your job, to kill, to be aggressive," said Iraq war veteran Tony Clum. "Your feelings get shut out because you can't think about that stuff over there."

After his final tour in 2008, Clum struggled to adjust to life back home.

"Your mindset gets to be a certain way, and then you come here and you can't be that way anymore," he said.

After his tours, the death of a close friend, and a divorce Clum turned to alcohol. That led to two DUIs and two stints in jail.

"I tried to hang myself. I didn't do that right. Which I'm glad; I just wasn't in my right mind at all. Having a hard time adjusting," he said.

Clum, like so many other war veterans, was diagnosed with PTSD and TBI - traumatic brain injury.

"I just really wanted to go back. Sometimes I think about it really because it's what I'm used to. My guys are there. I feel like I left them behind," said two time Iraq war veteran Tony Clum.

He could benefit from legislation awaiting a vote on the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

A state House committee approved the bill that would allow a judge to send a military veteran convicted of a crime to the Department of Veteran Affairs for treatment if they are diagnosed with PTSD or TBI.

"I think it's a very important program because there are going to be more coming home that are going to have issues," Clum said.

Nine months sober, Clum attends regular Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and treatments. And what time he used to spend drinking, he now spends with his two children.

"I'm going to stay on that lifestyle because it's working. The alcohol wasn't working," he said.

The bill's author, state representative John Bennett, says this is not an opportunity for someone to commit a crime and blame it on PTSD. He says the new bill includes a sentencing program that also includes some felony crimes.

Right now veteran's court only serves those accused of misdemeanors.