July Hero of the Month: From Baghdad's streets to Denver's fashion runways – FOX31 Denver
WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. — Anger, anxiety, fear, uncertainty. There is a common thread with each of these words for Army veteran Duane Topping. They describe his daily struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
“It really drops you into a really dark hole – you start to think you can`t get out of it,” Topping told FOX 31.
Three tours in Iraq have taken their toll.
“The first patrol I went on, we were walking down the street in Baghdad, I started hearing (what sounded like) flies. It was a sniper shooting at us,” he said.
Topping tried everything. Psychologists, medication. Nothing seemed to help.
“I plunged into chaos, absolute chaos,” he said.
He used a needle, thread and fabric to stitch together a better life.
“First thing I did was go back to school. And somewhere around the last semester I decided to go back to artistry. I always loved fashion,” he said.
“And you know, we had sort of talked about how I could learn to sew and make clothes for my wife. And so I came home one day and said ‘Listen, I’m going to teach myself how to sew,'” Topping said.
“I sat down at a TV tray with my sewing machine and I made a purse – upside down,” he said.
But within four months, Duane was mastering his own designs. And soon models were sporting his fashion on the runway.