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"My family didn't recognize me:" FGCU program helps Coast Guard veteran & others

Marking Women Veterans Day, Coast Guard veteran Lauren Rodriguez talks about what happened and where she found help.
FGCU Home Base Florida Coast Guard military program
Posted at 8:43 AM, Jun 15, 2024

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Lauren Rodriguez is a Florida Gulf Coast University student. She also served in the Coast Guard.

"I was in a very dark place," Rodriguez said.

WATCH: what changed Lauren's experience in the military forever.

"My family didn't recognize me:" FGCU program helps Coast Guard veteran & others

She served for four years and was stationed in La Push, Washington. Rodriguez and her team were called to help a group of civilians stranded on a sinking ship.

"I wasn't able to save those lives," she said.

She says the treatment she endured while serving, coupled with the trauma from that day, brought her a season of depression.

"My family didn't recognize me. They had no idea who I was. I wasn't my bubbly self," she said.

Angie De Lima is the Operations and Special Projects Manager for Home Base Florida. It's an organization that offers cognitive behavioral therapy, personal training, and so much more. It's located on FGCU's campus where all veterans can find support.

"40% of clients that we serve are female," De Lima said.

About 15 percent of those who serve the country are women. De Lima says she has seen other women change the same way Lauren is now.

FGCU Coast Guard Vet Home Base Florida program
Lauren Rodriguez spends time in the gym with a coach as part of her program with Home Base Florida to heal emotionally, following her experience in the U.S. Coast Guard.

"The [therapy] sessions are countless, so depending on your treatment plan and your treatment goal, you do have the opportunity to go into depth and really heal that wound and best of all it's free of charge," De Lima said.

The healing is priceless.

"It's been life-changing to say the least," Rodriguez said.

Now, she is studying exercise science and finding joy on FGCU's campus.