My grandfather was my number one role model – he served in the Navy and was there when Pearl Harbor went down. When he would tell stories of this time, I would lock eyes on him and feel a sense of pride and admiration. September 11 happened during my senior year of high school, and I went to the Marines recruiting office that very day. The military came naturally to me; I felt I was exactly where I belonged. I became a squad leader shortly after getting stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and discovered leadership traits I didn’t even know I had.
I was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and received a Combat Meritorious Non-Commisioned Officer promotion, a prestigious leadership role within the United States military. I took this position very seriously and still do. I was deployed a second time in 2005 and suffered several injuries, including a torn ACL and a traumatic brain injury.
Upon returning home, I had several surgeries and needed extensive physical therapy. I suffered from hearing loss and PTSD, turning to drugs and alcohol cost me important relationships relationships with friends and family. Unfortunately, there is no boot camp for returning home. I felt like a number in my local Veterans Affairs system, so I took matters into my own hands. I got active in my community and found a passion for commercial diving, which allowed me to once again be part of a group and I was able to take the steps I needed to heal myself.
There is no doubt in my mind, attending a retreat like Range 2.14 would have given me the proper tools to handle the transition and acclimate back into society. The treatment approach is simple; no meds, no dogs, no waivers - it's just you against yourself. When you're the one responsible for overcoming such seemingly insurmountable odds, it's incredibly rewarding. We've found the ultimate solution in the Warrior PATHH Program, and we want to share that knowledge with fellow servicemen and women returning home.