|By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
|WASHINGTON, May 21, 2009 – Josh Hopper looks like he would win battles against an NFL lineman.The Marine sergeant obviously is a body builder. His shoulders are broad, and his arms stretch the fabric of his uniform.
The sergeant looks like a winner, but there was a battle he couldn’t win without help – that against post-traumatic stress disorder. Now, Hopper is fighting another battle: to get servicemembers with PTSD to reach out and get help, as he did.
Hopper is part of the Defense Department’s new “Real Warriors” campaign.
“Real Warriors is a program aimed at wiping out the stigma associated with getting mental health care in the military,” said Army Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Loree Sutton. “We want people to seek help the same way they would if they had a physical wound.” Sutton is a psychiatrist who heads the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.
The Real Warriors campaign centers on the stories of warriors who admitted they needed help and now are pursuing successful military careers.
Hopper is one of those warriors. The sergeant served three tours in Iraq in 2003, 2005 and 2006. He is married and has two children, and he’s assigned to Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station, N.C. The intelligence specialist received the Purple Heart Medal after a roadside-bomb strike in Anbar province and participated in numerous fire fights. The accumulated stresses of Hopper’s time in Iraq led to post-traumatic stress disorder.