Summerville woman's mission to help post-9/11 veterans

By Ava

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) Xiomara Sosa often finds herself thinking about the work that still needs to be done each Veterans Day.

Sosa, an Army veteran, began her military career in her early 20s in the Air Force. It was when she switched to the Army that she was offered a career at the Pentagon.

"Then I got sort of an elite assignment with the Pentagon. And once I got that I was just hooked. And I loved it and I got all wrapped up in it. I stayed in the whole D.C area until 9/11," said Sosa.

She says on 9/11, the minute her train left the metro station for work that day, American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon.

"So, the whole day was really traumatizing. I was stuck in DC all day long because they shut down the city. You couldn't get back to Virginia; you just couldn't leave or come in," said Sosa. {}

In the days following the attack she went into survivor mode.

"I'd say maybe by the second week it kind of hit me, and I had my first meltdown," said Sosa.

Sosa says to this day she still has anxiety about the attack, but{} it was also at that time she recognized a need for all of the Armed Forces members that would be deployed after 9/11.

"All of the people who were going to be deployed after that, we're going to be the ones with the immediate needs and I knew we weren't prepared," said Sosa. {}

Sosa created the You Are Strong Center, an organization for veterans health and human services with a centralized website dedicated to helping veterans find the resources that will get them help they need after war.

"It takes strength to get help. It's not a sign of weakness and they deserve it. They put their lives on the line for us and they serve their country," said Sosa. {}{}

Sosa plans to continue fighting the stigma connected to the treatment of mental health issues for veterans through her website and educating everyone she meets about their needs.