November Hero of the Month: World War II veteran fighting stigma of PTSD

AURORA, Colo. -- At 93 years old, Jim Blane is proof, it's never too late to get the help you need.  Even seven decades later.

"I knew something was wrong with me," Blane said.

The World War II Marine saw the worst of the worst while serving in the Pacific.  From islanders committing suicide in droves on the rocky cliffs of Saipan, to his battle buddies who were killed on Iwo Jima - where he too was injured.

"That mortar hit one of our guys right in the back. There wasn`t enough left of him to bury hardly. And that`s when these other guys got the message about what Iwo was all about," Blane told FOX 31.

For decades, Blane suffered in silence because of what he saw more than 70 years ago.  He admits, he sought comfort in liquor.  He was an alcoholic.

"So I had to hold this inside me. And when I checked in to the VA (Veteran's Administration), they had a name for what was going on with veterans. They called it psychoneurosis. That`s another reason I dropped out of the VA, because I didn`t want that name associated with that problem," Blane said.

The stigma was too much.

But a few years back, Blane sought the help he needed.  He was officially diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and now takes medication that helps.  He also meets weekly with a PTSD support group.  Few people associate the ailment with members of the Greatest Generation, but it is something even 90 year olds sometimes deal with.

Staying busy helps.  In recent years he's been an ambassador for the Denver-based charity, The Greatest Generations Foundation - traveling the world to tell the story of his service.  In fact, just weeks ago, he and a few other veterans boarded the Cunard RMS Queen Mary 2 - to honor the 1.5 million US troops who crossed the Atlantic decades ago, headed to war.

For his service - and for his example that it's never too late to be treated for PTSD - it's our honor to honor Jim Blane as November's FOX 31 Problem Solvers Serving Those Who Serve Hero of the Month.  He receives a plaque, and a $250 Visa gift card from our Serving Those Who Serve sponsor, DCP Midstream.

We're already looking for next month's Hero of the Month - so if you know a veteran, an active duty service member, a family member or a volunteer who helps our heroes - nominate them now by clicking here.