For Erica Slone, the choice boiled down to a simple equation: Die. Or go to Fort Thomas.
In early July, she pulled into the parking lot of the Cincinnati VA’s Trauma Recovery Center in Fort Thomas. She stood outside studying the formidable brick building. She had a lot riding on this place.
Slone had arrived after years of suffering. In 2003, barely a year into her Air Force enlistment, another airman raped her. She told no one. She pushed on through her 6-year hitch, earning a rack of medals and serving in Iraq. When she got out of the service, she earned an art degree.
Through it all, she fought to block the memories, even as every moment of her life demanded hyper-vigilance.
At last, the trauma broke within, and the war against intrusive thoughts, anxiety and dread went badly. Slone ended up in a VA hospital planning suicide. Then a bed opened in the residential treatment program at Fort Thomas. She was doubtful. But she wanted to function in society again. So she walked inside.
In confronting post-traumatic stress disorder among military veterans, the Cincinnati VA Medical Center and its Fort Thomas Division stand as important battlements. Last year, more than 5,000 of the 43,000 veterans in Greater Cincinnati received treatment for PTSD at the medical center’s main campus, the Fort Thomas facility and six area clinics.