’I’m a mess:’ Daughter of missing Navy veteran with PTSD asks for public’s help

Robert Ford, 73, hasn’t been seen in week

The daughter of a missing Navy veteran is asking the public for help in locating him one week after his disappearance.

Sanford police said they have been looking for 73-year-old Robert Ford since his daughter, Catherine, noticed he wasn’t at their home Saturday morning.

According to his daughter, Ford left their home while she was asleep Friday night and hasn’t been seen since.

She said her 4-year-old son, who also lives at the home with them, told her Ford told him to stay inside before he left the home without any shoes.

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The woman said in a news conference Friday, one week since she’d last seen him, that she was concerned for his health because he had a chest cold and the weather has been cold in Central Florida since he left home. She said he’s also prone to bronchitis.

Ford’s daughter said after 24 years in the Navy, her father suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. She said she noticed a decline in his mental state in the days before his disappearance.

“With his PTSD, I’m definitely worried about that. If he hears a chopper or something he could just fly into some sort of mode where he’s in Vietnam again,” Catherine Ford said.

Ford’s daughter said her father sees things differently than others, and is worried about him being in areas he doesn’t know.

“He might look at a field and where everyone else sees a field, he sees a department store or a limousine or men and workers going around," she said. "He sees a whole world that no one is seeing and he gets upset if people admit that, you know, you’re not looking at that.”

She said her father also gets agitated and confused, especially later in the day. Officials said Ford is currently on medication for depression.

The woman said she and her son have had a difficult time since her father left, but she’s doing what she can to stay strong.

“I won’t lie. I’m a mess. I’m just thinking, ‘Just keep going. Be that strength that your father taught you,’” she said.

She said it’s been especially hard to explain the situation to her son, whose birthday is days before Christmas.

Catherine said having her father home in time for her son’s birthday and the holiday would be the best present her family could ask for.

According to his daughter, law enforcement officers have been helping in the efforts to locate Ford by putting up flyers and bringing out helicopters and bloodhounds to search the area.

She said the dogs picked up his scent nearby but lost it soon after, which she says could mean her father got into a vehicle at that point.

Despite law enforcement’s efforts and help from fellow veterans, she said she still needs more help in the search.

She said she is working to organize a volunteer search in a wooded area Monday.

Anyone interested in taking part in the search for Ford can visit Facebook.com/BringFordHome for details.

According to police, Ford was last seen wearing dark-colored shorts, a dark-colored T-shirt and a jacket. Authorities said Ford has a small beard and weighs approximately 160 pounds. He is 5 feet 7 inches and has hazel colored eyes.

If you have any information about Ford’s whereabouts, please contact the Sanford Police Department at 407-688-5199.

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