My grandfather served on the front lines of the Korean War and generously shared many stories during that time in his life. Looking for more purpose, I enlisted in the Army after I spent a year in college playing baseball. Soon after boot camp in Fort Benning, Georgia, I was deployed to Iraq with Robert Fitzgerald (Range 2.14 CEO) and the rest of our platoon. As Illinois natives, Robert and I quickly became best friends. Arguably one of the best parts of being in the military; the connections you make. I did a second tour in 2009, where everyone returned home safe and sound at the end of 2010.
When I returned from deployment, I tried going back to school - but it didn’t feel like the right fit. I had trouble focusing and would get easily frustrated. Something was missing, the camaraderie that comes with the military was no longer, and I had a hell of a time trying to find "my way" without it. On St. Patrick’s Day 2011, I suffered a massive aneurysm and spent eight days in the hospital suffering through post-traumatic dreams of Iraq. Four months later, I had open brain surgery.
I spoke to Robert every day during my recovery, which served to help us both transition back into civilian life. He called every single person he could find in the Veterans Affairs office to get me the help I needed. I was lucky to have the support of one of the country’s best Veterans Affairs systems in Madison, Wisconsin.
If I had the chance, I would go through this all over again - and I know most veterans feel the same way. Unfortunately, I became defeated in looking for an effective recovery solution after my enlistment. Had I been exposed to the Warrior PATHH Program, I'm sure I would be a completely different person today. This program is not only inspiring, it’s life-changing.