Former Marine Dakota Meyer tries new PTSD treatment

To treat his PTSD, the Medal of Honor recipient turns to an injection in his neck. 60 Minutes first met Meyer in 2011

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It has been nearly a decade since Sgt. Dakota Meyer and a fellow Marine repeatedly drove through a wall of Taliban fire in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. As the insurgent gunfire rained down, Meyer manned the gun turret on his armored truck, dodging bullets in an attempt to save more than two dozen trapped American and Afghan troops.

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Former Marine Dakota Meyer told 60 Minutes he has not been able to get the war out of his head. He served in Afghanistan and became the first living Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor

"There was so much fire it sounded like static over top of your head," Meyer recalled in a 2011 interview on 60 Minutes. "I was just waiting for one of those rounds to hit me in the face."

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Dakota Meyer in a 2011 interview on 60 Minutes

Four American service members and eight Afghan soldiers were killed in the six-hour battle.

For his acts of bravery, Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor, becoming the first living Marine to receive the distinction since the Vietnam War.

But almost ten years later, Meyer is still fighting a battle.

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Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer told 60 Minutes he has struggled with PTSD

"He would tell us that he was not able to get the war out of his head," 60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker told 60 Minutes Overtime in the video above. "He brought it home with him. He was tense, he was anxious. He was quick to anger. He was losing his friends."

As Whitaker reports this week on 60 Minutes, Meyer has turned to an experimental new treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, a treatment that he says has saved his life. It's called stellate ganglion block, or SGB.

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During an SGB procedure, a doctor injects a local anesthetic deep into a cluster of nerves in the neck called the stellate ganglion. These nerves help regulate the body's "fight or flight" response, which goes haywire in people with PTSD

During an SGB procedure, a doctor injects a local anesthetic deep into a cluster of nerves in the neck called the stellate ganglion. These nerves help regulate the body's "fight or flight" response, which goes haywire in people with PTSD. Doctors are not sure how SGB works for PTSD, but it seems to numb the nerves, turning off the body's debilitating reactions.

As Whitaker reports, SGB does not cure patients of PTSD. Rather, it calms their hyperactive brain, allowing them to be more open to regular therapies.

Patients often feel results within minutes, and the effects can last months. 60 Minutes was in the room recently as Meyer received an SGB injection. He summed up the difference this way: "If you took being downtown New York City in rush-hour traffic to, all of a sudden, driving down a quiet country road with nowhere to be."  

SGB is still considered experimental and is currently available at only 12 of the VA's 172 hospitals. A large-scale clinical trial is currently underway.  

"The doctors and the veterans are telling us that if this is approved, they believe that it will revolutionize the way PTSD is handled," Whitaker said.

To watch Bill Whitaker's 60 Minutes report on SGB, click here.

The video above was produced by Brit McCandless Farmer and Will Croxton. It was edited by Will Croxton.