After finally overcoming my own battles with alcoholism and addiction, I have always found myself drawn to the fighters – those precious souls that keep getting back up no matter how many times they fall down. So, it would be really easy to say that this is my “Why?”, but it’s not.
My great grandfather was a Colonel in the Army in WWII and my grandfather was a career Army and received the Purple Heart for his acts of heroism in WWII and he retired as a Colonel. However, this is still not my “Why?”
In 2013, I was a single mom to an 11-year-old son and had 18 months of sobriety and thought it was time to date (right?), so I got on the Christian Mingle dating site and met a very handsome Army guy who had recently retired after 23 years of service. He saw the beauty in my story of recovery and he decided to stop drinking because, though not an alcoholic, he knew that it wasn’t an option if we were to be together. We begin dating, we fall in love, we marry, he leaves Ft. Hood and the military life behind and moves to San Antonio. He begins to try to make it in the civilian world and this is where my “Why?” begins.
Here is this amazing man, who has given 23 years of his life and sacrificed so much for our country, has 3 combat tours, was a Jumpmaster, has achieved incredible things in his military career, including playing a huge part in putting together the plan to rebuild Iraq, and yet he could not find where he fits in as a civilian. Whether it was struggling to find a job, or trying to learn how to think like a civilian, or people telling him not to say he’s a Veteran because “It’s off-putting”, the battle in his mind continued to get more intense. My heart broke as I watched him wrestle with rejection, hopelessness, PTSD and he wasn’t able to use anything to numb the internal pain because he gave up alcohol for me! I felt helpless because I couldn’t fix it and many nights were spent in tears and prayer. I have always respected and admired Active Military and Veterans, but seeing what life was like for my Warrior after leaving the battlefield, caused something to awaken inside me. I couldn’t imagine adding the disease of addiction to the struggles these Warriors were already facing and I wanted to help!
The happy ending to my “Why?” is that my prayers were answered, as Rich reached out for help and began his own journey to healing his heart. Then, after 9 ½ years of trying to find his place, he finally feels like he is home, as he was hired by Warriors Heart to be the Alumni Manager. In his words, “I can’t believe I get to be around my people and not be planning for war. This is amazing!”. I am beyond grateful that we both get to use our stories of restoration, in hopes of helping these Warriors heal.