Medal of Honor Recipient Leroy Petry Discusses Mental Health Awareness with Soldiers
Medal of Honor recipient Leroy Petry visited the city of Fairbanks, Alaska in late July 2018. Petry, who is the official ambassador and quality control advocate for the Extra Mile Military Care program at Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital (Marysville, WA), toured both Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base. While visiting, Petry advocated mental health services that are available to both active military personnel and retired veterans.
While on a mission in rural Afghanistan in May 2008, Petry saved the lives of two fellow Army Rangers when he grabbed a grenade thrown near them. While attempting to throw the grenade away, it detonated in his right hand.
While he may have lost his hand, Petry continued to fight. After recovering from his wounds, Petry re-enlisted in the Army and was deployed to Afghanistan once more. He served until he received the Medal of Honor on July 12th, 2011.
Now retired, Petry hopes to help veterans who are experiencing depression or are seeking PTSD treatment.
“The world is filled with opportunity.” Petry says, “When you wake up, and you breathe that air into your lungs, and you open your eyes, you have the opportunity to change the world.”
Petry also spoke about mental health awareness and how important it is to take care of our veterans. This means taking care of the veteran’s physical wounds and emotional wounds too.
An average of 33 American active duty service members or veterans commit suicide daily. Statistics like this showcase just how essential mental health services are.
Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD for short, may feel as though there is no help available to them without a stigma attached. Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital is hoping to change this, especially with programs like Extra Mile Military Care.
“For a lot of people they have no hope, (they think) no one is going to help them out,” he said. “Plus the stigma of, ‘Oh, if I go get mental health I’ll never be able to own a gun, or I’ll never be able to continue my job, they’ll kick me out, or I’ll never get promoted.’
“A lot of what I talk to them about is that to be a well-rounded soldier you’ve got to be mentally, physically and spiritually green. When you started going into the yellow or the red you’re not going to be at your peak performance.”
Be sure to watch the video linked below for additional information!