Passaic County vet credits UCLA program for helping her mend after deployment

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A Passaic County veteran who served in both the Marines and National Guard is sharing her story of PTSD and the program that helped get her life back.

Coming home to Clifton from deployment in Iraq to was a tough transition for Staff Sgt. Victoria C. Givens-McMillan. Her family didn't know what was wrong at first.

"I had flashbacks, nightmares. He didn't understand basically what was going on until I had a suicide attempt and then he kind a got the full blast of like, 'Wow there's something wrong with my wife,'" says Givens-McMillan.

The proud grandmother tried many different programs to get help. But when she stumbled upon UCLA-based "Operation Mend," she says there was something different about it.

"Operation Mend, they make you feel like family from Day 1. It's not cold it's not clinical, it's very warming," says Givens-McMillan.

Givens-McMillan received treatment for a neck injury and went through a three-week intensive mental health program, which she says changed her life.

"It made me cry in the beginning. I was a baby, a big baby, but it also made me look at myself and made me respond to why I was acting so in certain manners that I couldn't answer myself," says Givens-McMillan.

Now months after her time with Operation Mend, she wants other veterans to know there is nothing wrong with asking for help.

"You're not being weak. Actually you're being strong," she says.

Operation Mend is funded through donations, meaning there is no cost to veterans.

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