Lt. B is the last surviving member of his covert Air Force unit.
Initially, he was one of three to make it home from a second tour in Iraq in 1993. Of the three, one died of cancer and the other, waging a war with civilian life, killed himself less than a year of returning home. Lt. B felt like he was not far behind.
Lt. B, of Lake County, was on a downward spiral until February 2014 when he was introduced to Rapid Resolution Therapy, an innovative, holistic form of psychological treatment intended for survivors of sexual violence, addiction, PTSD and trauma. The Times has agreed to refer the interviewee as Lt. B to protect his family, his current employer and his future in the military.
“I came home 14 years ago in a wheelchair sustaining multiple fractures in one leg and my right heel fragmented and took a bullet to my arm,” Lt. B said. “I took to drinking and eventually got hooked on Vicodin to try and escape the flashbacks, violent nightmares, depression and schizophrenia, and when I was high, it went away. I was in a bad place, and quite frankly, I didn’t want to be here.”
On the cusp of destroying his relationship with his wife, children, family and friends, Lt. B began “stealing from my own damn family and even myself to feed my crack addiction.”
Contemplating suicide, he hit rock bottom when his brother picked him up in freezing temperature in front of a crack den in Chicago's Robert Taylor apartments.
Soon after and desperate for help, he was introduced to Michael Cortina, director of outpatient services for Regional Mental Health Center, 8555 Taft St. in Merrillville, and learned about Rapid Resolution Therapy. In one session, he had a transformative experience and his trauma symptoms were overcome, according to Lt. B and confirmed by Cortina.
“Lt. B is a fascinating story because he came in my office weighing 120 pounds and looked dangerously ill,” Cortina said. “This RRT method was created for individuals like him that have been through tragic situations.”
Envisioning the finished piece
RRT is a talking therapy during which the therapist leads most of the discussion, contrary to most therapy, and uses a combination of neuro-science and a healing intention that brings joy and relief at the outcome.
“The best way I can explain it is that of a sculptor that envisions the final product before it is completed,” Cortina said. “It is outcome-focused and drives results more efficiently because RRT dives into the deeper layers, which sometimes takes years in traditional therapy.”
Tina Sincan, of Hammond, now 50, has been battling depression since she was 21. Sincan’s brother battled heroine during his late teens and young adult life, and he killed himself at age 20. Her younger brother’s death had a profound impact on Sincan; she was hospitalized for depression multiple times and admits to thoughts of suicide to “find a way to overcome the darkness and pain.”
In April 2016, Sincan found her 30-year-old heroine-addicted stepson barely breathing after attempting to kill himself with a gun; she found herself in the “same hole” she'd battled to get out of her entire adult life. He eventually died from the injury while in the hospital.
“Every time I went to bed, I relived the same tragedy,” Sincan said. “I knew therapy and talking wouldn’t work, and I didn’t even want to go that route. No way.”
Passing it forward
Sincan eventually was referred to Cortina’s Rapid Resolution Therapy by her primary therapist, and was encouraged to try it because of its more holistic approach dealing with trauma. She was ready to “try something new and different” because years of traditional therapy had not helped.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Sincan said. “The methods helped me to define my feelings, give them a color and throw them on the wall and see them deeply. In one session, I learned to file these feelings and channel them when I need them and not let them overtake my body.”
Sincan since has shared those same tools with her ex-husband.
“I used to think you had to be sad all the time in order to honor your loved one,” Sincan said. “That’s not true. You can miss them and empathize with them, but I can’t blame myself or anyone else.”
"These transformative experiences are consistent with about 90 percent of the participants who receive RRT for trauma at Regional," Cortina said. "I have tremendous gratitude that my team and other staff at the agency are learning and getting skilled in the use of RRT."
Cortina learned of RRT from a training flyer, and was intrigued with the methodology. He headed to Chicago for 25 hours of training and workshops over three days. Regional Mental Health started using RRT in 2012.
Today, Lt. B is 172 pounds and training in mixed martial arts. He recently received a VA loan to buy a house for his family. And he is considering the National Guard until he is fully vested to receive a military retirement.
Sincan has been experiencing “great success” and no longer has thoughts of suicide. She and her ex-husband continue a friendship.