Beck PRIDE Center Continues To Make Difference In Soldier's Lives

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) Hundreds of Region Eight soldiers are marching back home.

With 16-hundred members, the 39th Infantry Brigade is the largest combat command in Arkansas. It's not easy for soldiers to re-adjust, but a program at ASU can help.

"You're still amped, you're still energized, and it's very difficult to realize that you no longer need to be afraid," said Mendoza.

E4 Specialist Julio Mendoza is a member of the 875th Engineer Battalion. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, he served as a combat medic. He's back home now, in school, and slowly re-adjusting to life in a much calmer environment. An adjustment made easier he says thanks in part to the Beck PRIDE center.

"They took my hand and walked me step by step, and let me know what was available and told me it was going to be ok," said Mendoza.

"The Beck PRIDE Center services are designed to supplement which means add to services they already get or to fill in gaps," says Beck PRIDE Center Director, Susan Tonymon.

She says the center offers everything from physical rehab to counseling--which may be helping soldiers re-adjust to life back home. They also receive help finding a job or getting in school. Tonymon says the primary participants in the Beck PRIDE Center have been deployed in present day conflicts and have been injured during combat-- physically or emotionally.

"We actually see more mental health issues particularly with re-adjustment and the post traumatic stress--they're far more common," said Tonymon.

Thanks to additional funding, Tonymon says they haven't turned anyone away, and they plan to help even more soldiers....including those who have recently returned home or are on the way.

"We'll see a large number of those who are wanting to complete their higher education and we want to have our doors wide open ready to take care of their needs," said Tonymon.

As for Julio, he says he's lived through, and understands the physical and emotional struggles some soldiers face when they come home, but he says they don't have to fight the problems alone.

While the Beck PRIDE Center is located on the Jonesboro campus of ASU, you don't have to be a student to participate. Buddy and Charlotte Beck of Fairfax Station, Virginia, donated the money for the Beck PRIDE Center.  They have also gotten additional funding from businesses like Wal-Mart.

For more information call 972-2624.