KYLE, Texas (KXAN) — An Austin-Travis County EMS medic is trying to help veterans cope with issues they could be facing after their service in a unique way.
Pro tip: Destroying things is encouraged.
“There’s a lot of veterans and first responders that have PTSD,” said Damon Fogley. “A lot of times these veterans or responders don’t want to talk about it, they have different ways of channeling their energy so we want them to have a safe place where they can come and smash items, they can throw items.”
Serving two terms from 2002-2012 with the United States Army and National Guard, Fogley got the idea to open 512 Rage Room after seeing how the veterans he employed would react to smashing junk while doing work with another business he operates.
“I noticed that they really enjoyed doing that and there was a sense of just relief after they would do that, they would even take turns using a sledgehammer,” Fogley said. So he and his mother, Jinx, opened their business with the goal of giving that sense of relief and hope to others.
They provide toilets, glass items, fax machines, old printers and toys, dishes and even cars for people to break using their tool of choice: a sledgehammer, a hockey stick, bats and even pots. The items are supplied through a junk removal business owned and operated by veterans, as well.
“It’s about getting in there, having a good time, getting that release,” Fogley explained, adding that working as a medic can be stressful. “We’ve seen first-hand some of these veterans and first responders come through where they feel so much relief and they’ve told us this is actually better than therapy,” adding that it’s actually cheaper too.
Someone who has benefited from that is Sammy Steinberger. As a veteran who served in the Marine Corps from 2006 to 2010, he said he himself has felt so much relief from breaking all kinds of glass bottles in the rage room.
“You have a lot of things you want to get out and a lot of veterans go to the VA and they do their different types of therapy. Well, here you can come and you’re allowed to have 30-45 minutes of breaking things and it’s a really good release,” said Steinberger. “There’s not a lot of places you could go to break stuff and everybody is going to high five you for it.”
Though, there are critics who question the effectiveness of using a rage room as a stress reliever, Steinberger offered advice for veterans who may feel skeptical about trying something like the rage room or who are just afraid to seek help.
“You’re young still, you have the opportunity to get out and have a chance to enjoy life,” he said. “We are veteran owned and operated, you get to come here and meet other veterans and it might be you come here for a session and you walk out and you’re at my house at a barbecue in a week. It’s a brotherhood, not only in the military but outside.”
- If you or a loved one is a veteran in crisis and is needing help, please call the Veteran Crisis Line as 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.
It’s not just veterans. The business is open to the public for anything from team building events, fundraisers, birthday parties and even breakup and divorce parties.
“Everyone’s got different ways of coping with stress or dealing with being depressed for that last week,” Fogley said. “We’d rather them come here than go out and binge drink and exhibit violent behavior toward somebody or an animal, we want them to be able to come here and handle that in the rage room itself.”
It’s a rewarding feeling for Fogley to see people leaving with smiles and a sense of relief once they’re done with their session.”It’s a sense of gratification when someone came in with their issues and left their issues in the room.”
For more information, visit the 512 Rage Room’s website here.