He was there as a truckload of soldiers from his unit were blown up by an improvised explosive device, and the trauma of that - and other horrors he witnessed in Iraq - have haunted him for years.
But now Army veteran Curtis Bean is getting intensive help for his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. And it’s been a life changing experience.
In Iraq, Bean was a sniper, one of those guys constantly staring through a scope with an eye out for the enemy. Little did he know, when he got home from war, he'd have a few different enemies to look out for.
“I was drinking heavily. There were times I was drinking so heavily I wouldn't remember what I did,” Bean said.
He was trying to deal with his PTSD, a condition up to 80 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan face. He encountered some horrifying things during his two tours in Iraq, including an IED blast that killed four men from his unit.
“Not dealing with it is not the right answer,” Bean said.
So recently, he decided he would face his problems, and enrolled in an intensive, seven-week, in-patient PTSD program. It forced him to probe the feelings he'd been avoiding, and learn how to cope.
“I really kind of dealt with it for the first time in five years. Which made it a lot worse,” Bean told FOX31 Denver.
They say things have to get worse, before they can get better.
And that's what's happened. And finally, things are getting better.
Bean has received help from a local charity – Helpoutnothandouts.org. The group paid his bills that had been stacking up while he was getting treatment.
He's moving ahead with his plan for life, working as a fitness program director and becoming an artist. He's already sold several of his pieces, and he's going to school for a fine art major.
“Just the possibilities are endless, and I think there are a lot of good things in the future for me, and I look forward to it,” Bean said.
If you’re a veteran who needs immediate help dealing with the effects of PTSD, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.
To learn more about PTSD Programs in Colorado, click here