Ep 9: The Bodyguard – Overcoming Loss On And Off The Battlefield with Jonathan Bittner

Welcome to episode nine of Untold Valor. In this episode, we’ll be hearing from Army veteran Jonathan Bittner. Jonathan spent significant time deployed to the war in Afghanistan where he witnessed a wide array of difficult circumstances.

Listen to this episode to hear about one of Jonathan’s unique bodyguarding assignments and how he processed the trauma of combat and losing friends in battle.

Don’t miss an important part of the episode where Jonathan talks about the additional traumas many veterans experience even long after returning home, and how his journey through counseling and overcoming PTSD have influenced his personal and professional paths to this day.

Highlights:

  • Jonathan shares a little about his Army service, including serving as bodyguard for a chaplain while deployed in Afghanistan. (1:35)
  • “Somebody is here one minute. Breathing, laughing, crying… And a couple of seconds later they’re gone.” Jonathan dealt with the loss of close friends and experienced other traumas while deployed. (4:40)
  • “I thought I came back perfectly normal.” Learn about Jonathan’s mental health journey and his battle with PTSD and other challenges. (7:54)
  • So where did John’s recovery lead him in his personal and professional life? (14:20)

More about Jonathan:

After getting out of the army in 2013, Jonathan began helping Veterans in various capacities.  He served in leadership positions locally and at the state level with the PA Veterans of Foreign Wars including serving as the District Commander for Montgomery County.  Jonathan volunteered for Operation Ward 57 as the backup to their Crisis Hotline – talking with Veterans and their families during some of their darkest times. In 2018, he joined the Voice and Vision, Inc. Board of Directors representing veterans and their needs.  He later became the Director of CompeerCORPS at Voice and Vision where he outreached to Veterans, led support groups, and developed CompeerCORPS Veteran to Veteran friendship matches.

Jonathan is a therapist who specializes in trauma and works with Veterans, First Responders, and their families. He is one of the founders of Chestnut Hill Therapy Collective. Jonathan has a Master’s in Clinical and Counseling Psychology and is a Combat Veteran from the war in Afghanistan, which help him to serve Veterans with skill and understanding. He is also working on his Doctorate of Psychology to become a Clinical Psychologist so he can be of further assistance to Veterans.  Jonathan sits on a Community Advisory Board through the University of Pennsylvania’s, Perelman School of Medicine, where their goal is to bring together researchers, clinicians, and persons with lived experience to improve the care of civilians, Veterans, and active-duty Service Members with PTSD, suicide risk, traumatic brain injury, or some combination of the three.

https://www.chestnuthilltherapycollective.com/

Resources:

Veterans Crisis Line: Dial 988 then Press 1    Chat at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat   or Chat by Text 838255

Voice & Vision: https://voiceandvisioninc.org/

CompeerCORPS: https://voiceandvisioninc.org/compeercorps/

Information on how to apply for VA Healthcare Benefits from anywhere in the USA: https://www.va.gov/health-care/how-to-apply/ or call 877-222-8387 (Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-8 p.m. EST)

To apply for veteran’s benefits and find resources in Pennsylvania veterans need to contact their County Office of Veterans Affairs as listed in this document: https://www.dmva.pa.gov/veteransaffairs/Documents/Outreach-and-Reintegration/countyprint.pdf

To view more about PA’s resources for veterans: https://www.pa.gov/guides/veterans/

Financial support for Untold Valor is provided by a Veterans’ Trust Fund grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

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