It all started with my mother’s cedar chest in which she kept odds and ends and memories.
Among those memories were my father’s WWII medals and a diary detailing his experiences on December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor and later at Iron Bottom Bay, Guadalcanal where his ship, the U.S.S. Blue, was torpedoed.
Consequently, as a kid I thought I’d be a sailor. After all, there was my father’s example, as well as his younger brother, my favorite uncle, who was an active duty, sea-faring sailor during the years I was being enchanted by my Dad’s shiny, mysterious medals.
As the years passed by, I realized my childhood dreams of attending the Naval Academy were at odds with my academic skills. I was no engineer or mathematician, and, in those days, those subjects dominated the Academy’s curriculum.
Instead, I found my way into the military as a psychology graduate student and wound up in the Navy, being stationed up and down the east coast in various naval hospitals.
Later, two things occurred that directly relate to why I am here at Warriors Heart.
First, I transferred from the Naval Reserves to the Army Reserves. This was fateful because while training in the Army I was exposed to its Combat Operational Stress Control doctrine.
The other event was 9/11.
For while I thought my transfer from one branch of the service to another was simply going to make my final years until retirement more convenient for me, it resulted instead in two deployments to Iraq. Those deployments and the events that occurred altered the arc of my life in a variety of ways, both professionally and personally.
First, I encountered many soldiers, Marines, and other servicemembers experiencing the “first fruits” of PTSD . . . and later, in other academic and clinical settings, I saw what happened to many of these individuals when their conditions were either not or incompletely addressed. It was like a plague of psychological and moral disease.
Secondly, my younger son, Tyler, a Marine NCO, twice was wounded by IED attacks. The consequences were severe: mTBI, PTSD, substance abuse, the deterioration of health and well-being, the near-demise of his young family.
The good news is that Tyler pulled through it. He did so with loving family support, good behavioral health care, the 12-Steps and AA, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Consequently, when Warrior’s Heart reached out to me with an opportunity to share in their work, to participate in the accomplishment of their mission, it felt to me that I’d received a call from home saying, “Come back, we could use your help.”
So here I am..