Petal woman creates veteran advocate group to save lives

Petal woman creates veteran advocate group to save lives

PETAL, MS (WDAM) - A Petal woman helped save a man's life after he struggled with PTSD for many years.

The Veteran Affairs Department said about 22 veterans take their own lives every day, and Stephanie Lembo said she wants to change this.

Daniel Walters has a PTSD service dog named Ellie that helps him when he has anxiety.

"It's like having a best friend," Walters said.

PTSD is a disorder people can get after they experience a traumatic event like a war. Daniel served in Afghanistan and Iraq. He experiences anxiety when he hears loud noises, heavy traffic or is in the middle of a large crowd.

For the longest time, Walters struggled alone with his PTSD until he saw Lembo's video.

"She's got angel wings," Walters said. "In my phone she's actually in it as a guardian angel."

In the video, Lembo shares her husband's story. He took his life five years ago after struggling with PTSD.

"Why, you know? That's what I screamed, and so that pain just makes the passion even stronger because this cannot happen to anybody else," Lembo said. "I'm not going to let it happen to anybody else"

Daniel reached out to Stephanie and they formed a special bond. He said her encouragement convinced him to get help from a therapist.

Stephanie said she was motivated to start an organization that advocates for veterans called the Petal Homefront.

She already completed her first project, which was to put service friendly dog stickers on businesses to let people like Daniel feel more comfortable.

"It's more of a welcoming mat, and for someone who struggles with PTSD, people are scared to go into establishments anyways," Lembo said."They are scared to go into large crowds."

Overall, Lembo said helping out these veterans in Petal is healing for her and has helped her move on from her past.

"This pain, I'm just going to let it go and make sure no other women is going to go through the same thing that I'm going through," Lembo said.