Veterans helping veterans with 'Battle Buddies'

Posted at 9:36 PM, Sep 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-21 00:36:10-04

There may be new hope for veterans who are not able or willing to go to the Veterans Affairs.

Battle Buddies is a group of volunteers who are there to lend an ear or offer advice.

The nonprofit is working to start a chapter in San Diego.

Retired LtCol. Albert Brewster was only 18 when he became a Marine and headed off to Vietnam.

"The day the Forrestal blew up [and] 134 men were killed was hard," Brewster said.

He was assigned to keep one alive as Rear Admiral Harvey Lanham's bodyguard.

"The admiral and I got blown up into the air and came down and landed on the flight deck," Brewster explained. "There wasn't anyone around us.

"He got up toward flames again so i got in front of him."

He saved Lanham's life. Lanhan shaped his by inspiring Brewster to go to school.

Brewster earned his masters, then joined the Air Force and got his doctorate. He ran mental health clinics and counseled military families for decades.

After retiring, he trained vets to help vets and started Battle Buddies. He trained 28 mentors, who are mostly vets, to help other vets.

"There's an instant trust because we've both been there," Brewster explained.

While Brewster saved Lanham during the service; he could not keep him from killing himself after it.

"Just feeling bad, " Brewster said through tears. "Because I wasn't there."

Battle Buddles is his way of keeping others from falling. He hopes to start a chapter in every city.