To Honor Them

Anonymous, 39, from California

 I am still active duty and have served 19 years in the Marine Corps. My buddy was going to go in the Marines, and he would get meritoriously promoted if he got a friend to join and so I stepped in.  I’ve been to Iraq three times, Afghanistan once, and had normal combat experiences.  

During those deployments I never dealt properly with the losses that I experienced, the losses I experienced with the deaths of friends in combat and so instead of dealing with the issues, when I came back home, I became haunted. I was taking out my anger, my bitterness, by acting out, and when things would get really bad, I would deploy again. So I never dealt with the issue.  Later on I developed PTSD; I drank a lot. Then I was put in a unique situation where I could not deploy anymore and it was then that all of the trauma, and the things that I had never allowed myself to deal with caught up to me. 

This came at a time when I wasn’t as busy as I would normally be. My anger started to come out, and it was displayed at work. One day I had a very violent, angry episode. My supervisors, in turn, asked me to seek counseling services for my anger – this is how I got my PTSD diagnosis and they thought it was wise to medically separate me from the military. Immediately they stripped me of my authority and all of my responsibilities, and that was really hard on me. So I started to take that home with me, and I was bad to my family. My children went back home to live with their mother because they didn’t want to be around me anymore (I have two sons and two daughters), I lost custody of them while dealing with the medical discharge. This was really hard on me. I was put on a lot of medications to help neutralize the effects of my PTS, and I became addicted to my medications. 

We had just had a baby and my wife wanted me to get help – which I wasn’t willing to do, so I told her to leave. I wanted to give her a reason to go, and after I told her just to leave, she did.  I was in a really bad spot. I became even more addicted to my meds and that took me to a place, psychologically, that I had never been to before, and I attempted to take my life. After that, I sought help and I ended up coming to Mighty Oaks to receive the help they offered. I had a friend who had gone through the program and he directed me to Fight Club, so I got up here sober but very broken, I still had my issues even though I was sober. My wife was about ready to leave me for good, I had been through a lot of counseling and nothing ever really got better.

I came here, to the veterans program at Sky Rose Ranch, and that week drastically changed my life – it was the first time that I was challenged to accept all of these issues and actions as my own. I have come to accept that I haven’t been acting this way because of war and trauma, but that I had to own responsibility for my choices – the blame game was off. I was challenged by the instructors to change, to de-stigmatize the PTSD, and now wear I it on my lapel.

So when I left, I put everything that I learned here at Sky Rose Ranch over those six days to use. The biggest thing was God – there was no God before, and God was in my life, now. My world had been flipped upside down. Nothing in my life was different; it’s just that now the way that I approach things is different. I’ve been an instructor here for 9 sessions and I’ve been coming back now to give to someone else what I received when I came.