PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) - Joe Rodgers understands the feeling of despair.
"When I came back from Iraq I felt like I kind of went from hero to zero," Rodgers recently told NewsChannel 7. "I Didn't know my purpose. Didn't think I had a purpose. The night that I put the gun in my mouth and I heard the click, I knew I needed help."
After years of being a soldier, Rodgers was suddenly battling an unseen enemy and the nagging question of why he came home but many of his friends did not.
"Our marriage was falling apart," explained Rodgers. "I was falling apart and in the military, you're taught if there's a problem you eliminate the problem. Well, I was the problem."
Rodgers got help through the V.A. but still felt as if something was lacking.
"No one was touching my spiritual wounds," he said.
Out of desperation, Rodgers' wife went on the internet in search of help.
"Something that would help not only spiritually, but as a couple," said Rodgers. "And she came across REBOOT and it has been life-changing. It dug into areas that I was not prepared to dig into. I had to face it head-on."
So life changing that Rodgers and his wife have brought the program to Bay County for other veterans.
REBOOT is a 12-week faith-based combat recovery course which isn't just for the veteran. The entire family is encouraged to take part
"The children, they have their own lessons and adults have their lesson. But we include the spouse because she walks through this path and journey with us," said Rodgers."
While REBOOT is for combat trauma, the local program is also offered to first responders and their families. The material that's covered can sometimes be overwhelming.
"This is our third session. And the first two we've had people get up and say, 'You know, I just can't do this tonight,' and they walk out," said Rodgers. "It touches on very tough issues like losing your battle buddy or losing your friends or forgiveness."
The program is still in its first year in Bay County and already there are many success stories.
"We've had two graduations. Last one we graduated 16 and it was very emotional," he said.
Rodgers believes the program is so successful because it's a safe place where you can be yourself.
"It's a safe place strictly because it's like Vegas," explained Rodgers. "What is said here, stays here. We don't guarantee that we're going to heal these ladies and gentlemen but we do give them more tools in their toolbox."
You can email Joe at email@example.com or call him at (850) 624-3682.