Veterans shocked there won’t be PTSD facility at new Aurora VA hospital

DENVER -- Department of Veterans Affairs officials said Wednesday the new Aurora hospital will no longer have a post-traumatic stress disorder facility when it finally opens.

“I was in the trail Humvee and an enemy insurgent threw a hand grenade through the top,” combat Army veteran Ian Newland said.

Newland’s body is full of shrapnel. He was nearly killed in Iraq in a grenade attack.

Over the past decade, he’s overcome several physical wounds, but there’s one not so easy to heal.

“The hardest wound to overcome that I battle every day is post-traumatic stress disorder.

At his lowest point, Newland attempted to take his own life. He said his treatment for PTSD at the Denver VA hospital only worsened his situation.

“It reminds me of a grade school program. This is what PTSD is, this is how you suffer with it and this is what our textbooks say how you can overcome it. It did nothing for me. It actually exacerbated my PTSD and made it worse,” Newland said.

Newland traveled more than 300 miles to South Dakota where he received six months of cognitive therapy.

He was told the same program would be offered at the new Aurora VA hospital, but it turns out that program won’t be available when it opens in August.

“It’s hurtful to say you guys aren’t going to have to go out of state anymore. We have this brand-new facility. We’re going to house you, we’re going to treat the PTSD and then now they’re not,” Newland said.

Newland is not alone.

Marine veteran Cory Hixon lost an eye and suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq. He and his family have moved to Tennessee because they said the Denver VA hospital didn’t meet the level of care they need.

Hixon was shocked to hear such a critical resource won’t be available at the new facility right away.

“PTSD treatment is definitely life-saving to a lot of veterans. I think that people in general should be outraged about that. I’m at a loss of words,” Hixon said.

Newland said the delay in opening the Aurora VA is drastically hurting the veterans in our community.

“I spilled my blood for my country and I come home and I want to see my friends get the level of care they deserve and it’s not happening,” Newland said.

PTSD treatment and resources are still available at the current VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System at 1055 Clermont St. in Denver.

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