Andy Mylin used to relate to the military the way that others could to a “friend of a friend.”
It touched his every day life tangentially, passing through in the shape of two uncles who fought in Vietnam or a grandfather who received the Silver Star for valor in combat.
As a child, they were his heroes. It wasn’t until adulthood that he realized his heroes were men.
“These guys had seen things that I could never imagine and have been juggling that,” Mylin said.
An artist by trade, Mylin seems like an unconventional choice for the facilitator of Reboot Combat Recovery course. More than 1,500 veterans recovering from PTSD, with an emphasis on spiritual healing, have graduated the 12-week program.
We just start to talk about stuff like guilt, what they saw, what they experienced.
Mostly they just chat — about the roots of trauma, forgiveness or anything else that’s on their minds.
“We just start to talk about stuff like guilt, what they saw, what they experienced,” Mylin said.
He was recruited to lead Reboot’s Centre County contingent by Paul Lansberry, a veteran who faced challenges of his own after returning from duty in Iraq.
Lansberry shared some of those experiences with the crowd of spouses, children and other loved ones who assembled last week to help eight veterans celebrate their graduation.
Bud Wagner, a Vietnam War vet, collected his diploma with his wife by his side.
The older man’s initial return from Vietnam was a turbulent time, a clash between the values of his upbringing and the realities of war. That conflict eventually began to manifest itself through alcohol and drugs.
“I felt like I was on fire inside,” Wagner said.
Eventually he found religion and went on to a 28- year career with the Christian Retreat Center in Juniata County. Once life started slowing down again, Wagner realized that there were still things inside of him he needed to confront.
I don’t have to tell them what I did or what I experienced.
This time it was done in the company of peers, a group of men who could understand the burden he was carrying.
“I don’t have to tell them what I did or what I experienced,” Wagner said.
They already knew.
With the course now complete, Mylin is hoping that the group continues to support one another beyond the confines of their weekly meetings.
“For me, I’m hoping this is the start of a new experience for these guys,” Mylin said.
For more information, visit www.rebootrecovery.com.