Still Here: Spencer veteran tells story of personal PTSD battle to inspire others to hang on



If a guy who’s taken a bullet to his face in an Afghanistan firefight can really consider himself lucky, Ben Manthe does. After his recovery from his wounds, he had the support of a wife and children, and found a purpose. Others aren’t so fortunate.
So many veterans have nothing after their military lives, Manthe said, like the 14 men he knew in his service days who’ve committed suicide in the last five years. Because they’re gone now and he’s not, he feels guilt, even though he surely paid his dues after Aug. 23, 2011, when an insurgent’s bullet blew his jaw and teeth and half his face apart. During his recovery, he swam in the same depths as others with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but he managed to find a way back up. Again, as he reminds himself every day, he is lucky.
Manthe is a 2002 Spencer High School graduate, who, “by unbridled sheer luck,” he says, is in a position now to help veterans to whom death seems a better option than hopelessness and anguish. Now living in Kenosha, he’s turned to an old passion — wrestling — to help his comrades, and will soon be the subject of a full-length movie that seeks to draw attention to the plight of ex-military women and men who can’t find their footing after putting back on their civilian clothes.

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