Henderson-based nonprofit hopes to fund facility to offer hyperbaric treatment to veterans

Wanting to provide alternative treatments to Las Vegas Valley veterans, Henderson-based nonprofit Imagine NOW (Nurturing Our Warriors) is raising money to open a center that uses hyperbaric chambers.

The organization said the chambers could treat issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

“Twenty-two veterans commit suicide a day,” said Janet Franco, the nonprofit’s founder. “That fact has been a game changer for a lot of people.”

This inspired Imagine NOW to try to help veterans deal with their overarching health issues that might lead to suicide. It is hosting an Imagine NOW week through Oct. 9 to raise awareness of using hyperbaric therapy as treatment.

During the week, a hyperbaric chamber will be escorted by the biker group Patriot Guard Riders from San Antonio to Henderson to help raise awareness. Once the chamber has arrived, the organization is slated to host a press conference at 1 p.m. Oct. 7 at Battlefield Vegas, 2771 S. Industrial Road.

The organization is the brainchild of Franco, a longtime proponent of alternative medicine, though she calls it “complementary medicine.”

“It’s no longer really alternative,” she said.

A few years ago, she said she felt called by God to look into veterans’ issues. She researched how veterans are using hyperbaric chambers to treat various ailments.

Known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the treatment involves people going into a body chamber where atmospheric pressure is controlled, and air pressure is then increased. The treatment has been used to treat anything from decompression sickness to diabetes.

Franco said some doctors have used it to treat traumatic brain injury, which is why she thinks veterans could benefit. She added that using hyperbaric chambers is covered by Veteran Affairs only some of the time.

Since then, she has partnered with Chere Pedersen, a local Blue Star mother and executive director of Imagine NOW. Pedersen knows what it’s like to have the war change someone you care about.

“My son came home a completely different person,” she said.

Imagine NOW, which is housed inside the Henderson Business Resource Center at 119 Water St., opened earlier this year and is working to spread the word.

The group hopes to raise $5 million by the end of 2016 to construct and fund a facility. A fundraiser is planned at 7 p.m. Oct. 8 at Inspire, 107 Las Vegas Blvd. South.

Beyond the fundraiser, Pedersen said the group will accept donations throughout the year.

“It’s about finding the right backer,” she added. “We just need to find someone willing to sponsor this.”

Once the facility is funded, Franco plans to offer the hyperbaric chamber treatment to veterans for free. Potentially, the group could expand to allow others interested in the therapy to use the facility at an undetermined cost.

Visit facebook.com/imaginenowcampaign.

To reach Henderson View reporter Michael Lyle, email mlyle@viewnews.com or call 702-387-5201. Find him on Twitter: @mjlyle.

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