Dad Enters Triathlon in Honor of His Son and PTSD

After publishing a cover story on

the increase in soldier suicides

and the complexities facing the U.S. Military and Veteran's Administration as they deal with an influx of veterans dealing with mental health disorders, such as PTSD, we received several e-mails from readers wanting to help.

Here's a great way.

Matt Hinton, the father of Bryan Benson, one of the marines we profiled, is pairing up with his son’s widow, Maria, to raise money for returning veterans and their families dealing with the trauma of war. At 53, he's competing in a Triathlon.

On July 22-25, Hinton and his son's widow, Maria Benson will race in the Minnesota Border to Border Triathlon to raise money for PTSD awareness. The two starting training together after Bryan's death.

Collaborating with the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, the family hopes to raise $15,000 to develop an information system to help returning veterans and their families recognize the social, emotional and physical behaviors associated with PTSD.

Many veterans with PTSD don't come forward because they're afraid the diagnosis will affect their military rank and future employment, says Sue Abderholden, associate director of the Minnesota chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Often they don't understand PTSD or know that help is available.

Benson, of St. Paul, committed suicide on April 27, 2005 after deployments in Iraq and Afganistan; he was 24. Today, his parents believe had they been more aware of PTSD, they would have known their son's struggles and been able to direct him to help.

"We all know too well that suicide is the worst possible result of untreated PTSD," writes his family in a letter asking for donations. "It is horrifying to realize we didn’t even consider PTSD as a danger to Bryan. Yes, we knew he had suffered trauma, having been wounded in Iraq, but we thought loving him up would bring back the sparkle that was missing in his eyes. We did not connect his behavior with PTSD. Nor did we understand the seriousness of that disorder."

By the time of the triathlon, Hinton and others will have trained over 1,000 hours for the 530-mile race that spans from the southwest corner of the state to the Canadian border. It will take more than 103,200 pedal turns, 52,800 running strides, 36,000 paddle strokes, and 35 hours to complete.

A donation of just $.01 for every 100 pedal turns, $.01 for every 100 running strides, $.01 for every 100 paddle strokes, $.01 for every racing hour, and $.01 for every training hour will meet our per mile financial goal of $29.55, Hinton says.

To help visit SAVE's website here, or call 952 946-7998, ext.10. Please mention the Bryan H. Benson Memorial PTSD Fund to make sure your donation goes to the family's cause.

For more information about PTSD and what's happening in Minnesota, please see City Pages's extensive coverage on this issue.

-Soldier Suicides

-Soldier Suicide Reporter's Notebook

-Crime & PTSD, Pending Sentence Mitigation Legislation for Veterans

-Minnesota Sentence Mitigation Bill

-Army Admits Military Suicide Rates are on the Rise

-New Report Shows Military Unprepared for Influx of Veterans Dealing with Mental Health Problems

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