DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE - CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED MEDICAL RESEARCH PROGRAMS
Hector Matascastillo

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Hector Matascastillo.

Hector Matascastillo served in the U.S. Army for 18 years. During this time, Hector served in conflict and combat operations as a member of both Special Operations Forces and conventional forces. He began dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) symptoms in 1999, but was not properly diagnosed until an unfortunate situation occurred that resulted in Hector's arrest.

In late January 2004, Hector's undiagnosed PTSD reached an apex that resulted in an armed standoff with eight police officers while Hector was in a dissociative state. As time passed during the intense standoff, Hector slowly became more lucid and grasped the reality of the situation. At that moment, Hector found himself wanting to die and believed he would never be able to live the life he had once known. Hector pleaded with the police officers to end his life. Ultimately, Hector peacefully surrendered and was sent to jail and placed on suicide watch. At that time, a U.S. Navy Veteran who had served during the Vietnam Era and who was now a licensed psychologist met with Hector and diagnosed him with PTSD and major depressive disorder.

Hector began intensive one-on-one treatments for PTSD; however, this was not his only form of therapy. He was urged to share his story, thus helping to give a face and name to the disorder that so many Service members and Veterans suffer from. Hector began speaking to police officials, attorneys, and judges. His compelling story was published in The Attorney's Guide to Defending Veterans in the Criminal Court in a chapter titled, "Kinship with the Warrior."

After leaving the Army, Hector pursued a career in clinical social work to continue his crusade as an advocate, advisor, educator, and therapist to those who suffer from PTSD. Hector has dedicated his life to increasing awareness of PTSD and has served on several boards as a mental health consumer member, including the Minnesota State Rehabilitation Council, Mental Health Consumer Survivor Network, the Veterans Action Center, Veterans Defense Project, and Breakthrough Ministry.

Hector joined the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) as a consumer advocate for the Psychological Health/Traumatic Brain Injury Research Program Peer Review Panel in 2009. Hector describes his time on the peer review panel as humbling, and believes the role of the consumer advocate is very important in bridging the gap between the researcher and the warrior they are attempting to serve. He believes that the research funded by the Department of Defense can save lives and impact families currently dealing with PTSD as well as make strides towards discovering novel ways to prevent PSTD for future generations to come. Hector is touched by the sincerity and vulnerability of all the members of the peer review panel; he feels a sense of kinship in their struggle to deter the loss of life and respects the humanity with which they review their research proposals.

Currently, Hector is a director in an intensive outpatient services clinic where he leads Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) teams, serves as the senior Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapist and consultant, and facilitates Healing of Memories retreats, among many other endeavors. In his free time, Hector enjoys road cycling, running, youth wrestling coaching, sea kayaking, obstacle course racing, and spending time with his boys.

Last updated Thursday, May 26, 2016