Friday, January 16, 2015

A Veteran Writes to GallantFew

I'll never forget the call I received from X last summer.  I found myself listening to a veteran very depressed and scared about the thoughts running through his head.  I vividly him telling me "but they told me I was broken" (meaning the Med Board review).  I challenged him that the only person who could tell you that you were broken was you - and that wasn't acceptable.  Why let some outside person or organization tell you what you are or what you aren't?  That laid the groundwork for a lot of change.  I also learned a lot from X - lessons in courage, persistence and willingness to ask for help - which in itself requires overcoming training that teaches you to suck it up. km

X writes:

"I have tried multiple service organizations, namely the VA and a variety of vet service centers, in a futile attempt to reintegrate into society. It was predominantly due to the inundated and fractured care that the Veterans Administration provides. This lack of infrastructure leads to War Fighters, such as myself, being left in the voids of society; becoming shut ins, often ignored and isolated, which in a lot of cases contributes to soldier suicide.

I would like to share I am an OIF/OEF Combat Army Veteran suffering from severe PTSD, a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), bi-lateral hip fractures, spinal fractures, left arm, hand, leg, knee, and both ankle injuries and a stab wound to the chest.

I had the Honor and privilege of deploying in the initial invasion of Iraq assigned to a joint special task force. I am also a product of California’s foster care system; a blueprint on what not to do to a child. Given my origin, I had baggage going into the service, but during my tour I experienced things that would blacken the heart of any normal human being and nearly cost me my life and it has been eating away at every facet of my life.

I was physically injured during service to my country, I was also emotionally shattered; transitioning to civilian life a constant challenge. I have had some success with equine therapy, the most successful treatment I had been through before the Serenity Trauma Healing Center program. The unique resources offered by GallantFew are like none other that I have ever had the privilege or access to in the past.

Although, a recipient of multiple combat awards, including, two medals of Valor and being honorably discharged; after leaving active duty and while negotiating the VA system, I believed that I was "broken", as my Med-Board review stated. As a soldier, I have continued to work towards a “normal” civilian life, the emotional scars and pain, making it feel impossible. The constant negative self-dialogue and anger, and if I am honest, fear, left me with little hope for the future. GallantFew's devotion and dedication and commitment to excellence has been a key contributor to my healing process; allowing me to be a better parent, better friend, better mate, and better man.

The visceral amount of fear and vulnerability and no sense of purpose had nearly extinguished any drive I might have to get better and then I was introduced to GallantFew and the special services they provide for authenticated combat veterans has been invaluable and irreplaceable.

Karl Monger and GallantFew consistently reminded me about the Warrior's Ethos, which is to never quit, regardless to the circumstances I am facing. He encouraged me to think of my children in my darkest times and he motivated me to continue to engage with the issues that were causing me to seclude myself from life, from others, from my family.

The physical and emotional pain I have been living with since my return from service is overwhelming and at times there seems like no better choice other than giving up on life, figuratively and literally. I, personally, have known fellow war fighters who have committed suicide. GallantFew provided unwavering resources and support. Experiencing the loss of my best friend to suicide was a crushing blow. If he had access to organizations like GallantFew, I will maintain that with the support of such an organization, the outcome could have been different.

Similar to veteran soldiers, active duty soldiers, are falling to suicide at a rate of almost one soldier per day. The solutions offered by the government has not proven successful. In fact, it has proven to be detrimental, because other therapies are not readily known about or explored. Just giving us drugs to numb the pain and dull the senses is not the right answer.

Every soldier has his/her own story. I am sharing mine, because I want you to know the impact GallantFew has had on me."


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