I was addicted to opiates for just over half the time I have walked this Earth. The first thing I ever wanted to be was an Army Ranger, and due to my addiction, I was never able to take that oath to serve my country. I have played water polo for our national team and swam at very highly competitive levels. I have achieved some great things in my life but no matter how hard I tried, no matter how much work I put in, I could never get and stay sober. I would lay awake at night trying to decide what would hurt my family less, me continuing to be an addict or me finally taking my life because I was so tired of hurting everyone around me. A few years back I reached a point where I lost my family, I was homeless, alone, cold, dope sick, and in so much pain from hunger it kept me awake. That’s when I moved up to the hill country. When I finally was able to find freedom from my addiction and overcome my PTSD, I carried so much weight from not being able to be out there with my brothers and sisters running calls, fighting fires, and responding to emergencies that I had to do something to serve them. My why is my brothers and sisters still answering the call, helping others and like me, not knowing how to help themselves. I spent years feeling trapped, thinking sobriety was impossible and death was going to be my only way out. I knew if I ever got free I had to spend the rest of my life pulling as many men and women out of the hell I came out of. I had to come up here, get sober, and then come back with reinforcements for my fellow first responders. Lastly, I may have never gotten to go overseas and help defend our country, but maybe I can serve them by helping to finally bring them home. My father always told me, “every saint has a past and every sinner has a future”.