JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Wounded Warrior Project Wednesday announced a new approach to treating PTSD involving blood testing and analysis.
The partnership with Cohen Veterans Bioscience will identify and study biomarkers in the blood samples. The goal is to provide those with PTSD with a more personalized treatment plan.
“A particular molecule present in the blood, a particular protein present in the blood that will give us a much better understanding on the course of action,” Alexander Balbir, the director for the Warrior Care Network, said. “There really is no current objective way for understanding how to treat someone. Or to see whether it’s true or not that they are indeed experiencing post-traumatic stress.”
Blood samples will also be taken after treatment to measure success.
James Rivera, a Marine Corps veteran, knows how important PTSD treatment is.
“I tried holding down a few jobs and it just didn’t work out,” Rivera said. “I was angry all the time, I didn’t understand why. I didn’t know what depression was until I felt it.”
Rivera’s story starts back in 2004. He was more than halfway through a four-year enlistment when he was deployed to Iraq. The first three months of the six-month deployment were relatively uneventful. That changed one August morning.
“I said ‘this has been our easiest mission so far,’” Rivera said. “And like the movies, a roadside bomb goes off about a mile down the road.”
Rivera called that the turning point in his deployment.
“Every other time we went out we had contacted from the enemy or were ambushed in some kind of way,” he said.
When Rivera returned to the United States, he picked up his job with military police. That’s when he experienced his first clue that something might be wrong.
He heard a firework go off in a nearby neighborhood.
“I bent over at my waist and ducked into the guard shack,” he said. “I pushed the staff sergeant out of the way because I thought I was under fire again.”
Then came the emotional aspects.
“Nothing was enjoyable, nothing was fun,” he said. “All the things I used to do I had no interest in doing anymore.”
About nine years ago, friend connected him to the Wounded Warrior Project and now Rivera is thriving, even running his own business.