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Paying it forward is good therapy for Marion veteran as he copes with PTSD

Michael Rainville of Marion, who spent nearly 20 years in the military, stays busy in his semiretirement helping others by giving them rides to medical appointments, delivering meals and helping with other errands. (James Q. Lynch/The Gazette)
Michael Rainville of Marion, who spent nearly 20 years in the military, stays busy in his semiretirement helping others by giving them rides to medical appointments, delivering meals and helping with other errands. (James Q. Lynch/The Gazette)

MARION — It’s been a journey, Michael Rainville says about his efforts to cope with PTSD related to his military service in Iraq.

“I used to be a shut-in. I didn’t want to go anywhere,” says Rainville, who served nearly 20 years in the Marine Corps, Arkansas National Guard and Army.

“Now I’m coming out of my shell, trying to help as much as I can,” he says.

Helping others has been his therapy, Rainville says.

“I know what it’s like to be in need with nowhere to turn,” says Rainville, who grew up in Cedar Rapids and moved to Marion in 2012 to be close to family. “So I’m, paying it forward. Someone helped me. Now I help someone.”

He joined the Marines at 17 and served 10 years. In 1999, he joined the Arkansas National Guard and eventually served a year in Iraq as a machine-gunner in a Humvee and flying surveillance drones. He remained on active duty until 2009 when he was medically retired.

Although he credits counseling and medicine he received while in the Army and later through the Department of Veterans Affairs with helping him cope with PTSD, Rainville says he went through some dark times. Support from his family and other veterans helped him come out of his shell.

Helping others is a big part of Rainville’s life now, giving him something to do and giving him purpose. He takes meals to people who can’t get them, and gives people rides to their medical appointments or the grocery store.

“This is what keeps me occupied now,” he says, adding that his wife, Linda, sometimes wishes he spent more time at home. He also works part-time at Color Web Printers.

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He started when a veteran told him he didn’t have any food or money. Rainville got him a meal and then took him to a food bank. Often he shares meals with others who take turns doing the cooking.

“It’s a good feeling. Good therapy,” he says. “I’ll keep doing it as long as the good Lord keeps me going.”

“I still have issues, but having people to talk to helps out,” he says.

And when that’s not enough, Rainville hits the road on his motorcycle.

“Wind therapy,” he says with a smile.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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