BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — "So initially when we get out of the military, we all try to figure it out on our own accord," said Curtis Rutledge.
Curtis served in the army for twelve years.
“Typically a lot of us end up self-medicating in different types of ways," he said.
Curtis said coming home from the military can be tough. Some veterans end up facing alcoholism or drug addiction.
“They’re trying to address that PTSD in a way that isn’t conducive to their healing," he said.
Curtis now works at the Wounded Heroes Fund and started the program Shift 6. It teaches veterans new skills within the automotive industry.
“It really helps resonate that healing and transition over into a productive civilian ," he said.
Curtis also went through the service dog program. He said making veterans aware of these resources is crucial.
“It all breaks down to having that safe environment with like-minded people to where you can kind of open up and let your hair down and feel free, so you’re not always pitted in that corner and [it's] like you as a veteran against the rest of the world not understanding what’s going on," he said.
Curtis said the support Kern County shows its veterans is touching.
“That’s huge... to know that we have that support. One of the mottos here at Wounded Heroes Fund is 'local heroes, local help,'" said Curtis. "So if we didn’t have productive members members of society willing to donate time and money and effort to helping us achieve our mission, it allows us to grow and it allows us to expand more options for our veterans.”
And you can help with something as simple as a smile.
“You never know who you might meet and where they are in life so you just try to be optimistic and, you know, a helpful 'hi' or 'how are you doing,' and just talk to them," said Curtis.
Click here to learn more about the Wounded Heroes Fund.