Cross-country Tour to Raise PTSD Awareness

The organizer of a cross-country tour to raise awareness about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder says the image of a young womanwho had been raped,repeatedly stabbed by arandom attacker and tied upin her apartmentwill haunt him forever.Vince Savoia, who founded in the name of the murder victim he couldn't save, said he decided to launch the cross-country tour after several Afghanistan veterans committed suicide aftertheirreturn from tours of duty.The idea for the tour came years afterSavoia suffered from PTSD from the call at Conter's Toronto apartment in 1988. Convicted sex offenderMelvin Stanton was 31 when he pleaded guilty tokilling and raping Conter duringa 48-hour unescorted pass from where he was serving a sentence.When Savoia, who was 27 at the time, arrived at Conter's apartment, she was naked, motionless and covered by a bed sheet."When I pulled back those bed sheets, I saw Tema for the first time," Savoia said. "I actually thought it was my fiancée. The psychical resemblance was so uncanny."Savoia said one of the reasons he suffered PTSD from that call was that the victim looked so much like his now-wife that his partner immediately asked if the victimwas his fiancée.It took Savoia a few minutes to realize that it wasn't his wife-to-be and that he wasn't in her apartment.Savoia said he also felt a significant amount of guilt after that call because the decision was made not to attempt to resuscitate the woman."That one decision haunted me for years," he said. "I felt guilty for not even trying to save her life."Savoia said he managed to finish the rest of his shift that day, buthe began to cry uncontrollably on his drive home from work.For several years after that call, Savoia suffered flashbacks, nightmares and became extremely protective of his wife and daughter.Savoia said he laterbecame angry all the time and ignored his wife and young daughter.He spent most of his time at home in the basement, isolating himself from the outside world. Savoia said he contemplated suicide but was too afraid to go through with it.He lost countless friends during that time, and almost his wife."For the longest timeI truly believed - and this is why my marriage almost fell apart-that because my wife looked sosimilar to Tema that my wifewould be the next homicide victim," he said.It took his wife threatening to leave him afterless than two years of marriage for him to get help.After countless couple's counselling sessions,Savoia confronted and then learned to deal with his PTSD.AlthoughSavoia got help forhis PTSD, he recognized in 1992 that he couldn't work as a paramedic anymore.He left the paramedic service and started his own financial planning company. After 18 years, he sold the company and dedicated his life's work to Heroes are Humanto make sure that others get the help they need.The cross-Canada tour that began inSt. John's on May 5 and stops in Ottawa on Thursday was another way forSavoia to bring awareness to PTSD.The tour will continue in Northern Ontario,Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia before finishing in Toronto on July 18.

Cross-country Tour to Raise PTSD Awareness 1

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