- 10 deployments
- 883 days alcohol free
- 600 Joint Special Operations & conventional missions
- 2 divorces
- 1122 days drug free
- 2 traumatic brain injuries
- 8 weekly therapy appointments
- 2 Purple Hearts
- 10 serious injuries
- 1 Bronze Star
- Countless lost brothers
- Untold moral injuries
- Immeasurable missed moments & memories of my children’s lives
I’ve spent the past almost 4 years trying to figure this whole civilian thing out. And let me tell you, this has been the hardest part of my journey. How do you go from an elite warrior to just a man, without a purpose? I had learned to life a life of no fear, and to ignore physical & emotional pain completely, but this was something entirely different.
I was medically retired in 2015 after my 2nd traumatic brain injury. After a 6 month recovery I took a job with the SAIC, contracting for the U.S. Army, conducting experiments with small arms & sniper weapon systems. That seemed right. Where else would my abilities be used best. I knew nothing else.
A couple months into the job, I blacked out at work, & came to with no recollection of where I was or what I was doing. It happened again while traveling & a co-worker found me on the floor of my hotel room. I sought medical attention & discovered I was having seizures. The only emotion I had at this point was anger & confusion. My marriage was falling apart. I was drinking daily. But not willing to open up to the idea of therapy. What kind of a man asks for help?
So I drank. And I popped pain pills like candy. And when I couldn’t get my hands on the prescriptions, I turned to other drugs. I hit rock bottom. Thoughts that I would be better off dead ran thru my mind. I moved home & asked for help. Something I couldn’t imagine doing before. But I knew this would be the end of me if not.
I chose to suffer thru uncovering the darkness that caused my anxiety & depression. And I built courage. There was a whole other side of me that I kept hidden. For fear of what others would think or say. Honesty is scary. It’s painful. But it’s the only way to create trust & respect in my life again.
As I started to air out the bad with therapy, it created little cracks. And those cracks allowed the light in thru the wounds. I am not a victim. No one hurts me. I am in charge of me. My life is good, positive, & I’m finding my new purpose.
I had to let go. I stopped telling myself I was lost. I’m not lost, I’m learning that life isn’t always black or white, and how to be comfortable in the grey. And that’s ok. I’m enjoying the ride, while I learn about the life that I missed, & that’s all that matters. I’m repairing relationships, & that will take time, but love is what makes the world go round.
Now my mission is to help other Veterans. I’m here to share how I learned to love myself again. To share my journey, the ups & downs, the sad & the happy, the dark & the light. Vulnerability & honesty is the only way I will live, & I want to be an example so that others know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m turning my trauma into a superpower & my pain into awakening. Some days are hard. But that’s life. I choose positivity more days than not. I’m here to give you the real reel, not just the highlight reel.
If you or someone you know is a Veteran and wants to talk about recovery, I’m here whenever you want to reach out.