Operation True North helps veterans and first-responders dealing with PTSD

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Published: May. 24, 2022 at 1:12 PM CDT
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - They saw a need and are helping to fulfill it. The people behind Operation True North in Longview felt that there are many veterans and first responders who have experienced trauma that changed their lives. And clients have found just talking it out with people with shared experiences can lead to healing.

Retired Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Cummings, Executive Director of Operation True North Grace Henderson, and retired Staff Sgt. Army Joseph A. Burke agree PTSD is something that needs to be dealt with since:

“Our veterans they’ve seen it in the past, and our first responders and medical personnel, they see it daily,” Henderson said.

It’s something that they say is hard to talk about except with those who have similar experiences.

“So, we get together on Thursdays and for the most part we cut up and encourage each other. And there are times when there’s something going on that we get down deep into it and talk about it and kind of guide each other through what’s going on in Life,” Cummings said.

“I felt it so good, and it helped so much that I constantly am trying to find other younger veterans to get in here. Because, as individuals we can’t help them as much as say a group can,” Burke said.

The veterans meet on Thursdays at 6pm and will be starting another group for first responders in June.

“We just talk about what’s going on in life. We don’t just want to focus on the trauma. We want to celebrate successes as well,” Henderson said.

And that approach seems to be attractive to those who need a little help.

“We’ve provided over a thousand counseling hours so far. And we have an average of 12 to 27 people in our groups every week,” Henderson said.

And as far as the name, Operation True North, Henderson said, “We wanted to call it operation, and then true north as in finding your purpose, finding what guides you.”

Operation True North has been a nonprofit for about two years and moved into their offices last December. They will hold a grand opening event next Tuesday, May 31 at 6 p.m. at 1628 West Whaley Street in Longview.

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KLTV’s Jamey Boyum spoke with Grace Henderson, Operation True Grace’s executive director of operations, and Eric Cummings, who retired from the US Army, about