"I retired from army service at the ripe old age of thirty with just over a decade of service. My retirement was forced a few years early due to IED strikes, bombs for uninitiated. The first tour I went on was in 2005 to Balad, Iraq paving roads with an asphalt company. While it didn’t have much combat, I never worked physically harder than paving speed bumps in Iraq. The following two tours were conducting route clearance, finding and rendering safe IEDs. One tour in Ramadi, Iraq 2006 to 2007 and the other was in Jalalabad, Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011. Was medically evacuated from Ramadi after sustaining blast injuries. A few years of rehab and trying to get the med board to approve me to deploy again and I was off to Afghanistan. Was involved in a handful of IED or RPG attacks to my vehicle in Afghanistan, one culminating in a second purple heart and retirement from service.
Accepting my service was over was another battle I had not expected. On deployments, there were many times, where I thought or said, “that is it! I am through with this shit!” but when it came time to really stop soldiering, I simply didn’t want to. Losing my identity as a person was entirely unexpected and another field of battle entirely. The many people I met who were worse off physically, but emotionally far stronger, gave me perspective and helped harden my resolve to not become lost to my own personal anguish.
While dealing with feelings of confusion over my personal value and a loss of life direction, I was introduced to Bill Hansen and his organization, Warriors Afield Legacy Foundation (WALF). Bill is a highly decorated Vietnam veteran who was also injured in combat. Under his wisdom and tutelage, a way forward was finally visible. Not a way out really, there is no evading the lives we live, but a way to use the lessons I have learned to keep moving forward.
Having brain injuries, one of my strongest fears is that at some point, I could forget the lessons I have learned. Thus the birth of these pages. To combat my fear and ensure that the losses and sacrifices will never be forgotten, this simple and short book was written to remind future me of who and why I am. Along the way, I was told these words could help others. Don’t know if I believe my words can help heal some one else, but if it’s possible, I feel honored enough to try. It isn’t an all inclusive tell all, attempting that caused literal seizures and a hospital visit. This is simply a few of the split seconds that impacted my life and how I view the universe. This is just my small example of what survivors of war look like on the inside."
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