“I was born and raised in Newark, NJ in a rough neighborhood filled with violence, drugs, and gangs. I lost my grandfather to a stroke when I was 16; he was my hero so I went on a downward spiral and almost didn’t graduate high school. I wanted to do something more with my life so I joined the Army in 2008 and deployed to Iraq. That tour was immediately taxing because a soldier in my battalion committed suicide a month into being there. Not long after two of our guys died in a vehicle rollover. That really crushed all of us, but me especially. I had just talked to Sgt. Author the night before about what we were going to do when we got back. We had to suppress everything because there was months left on the deployment and we still had to deal with every day challenges.
I didn’t deal with my issues when I returned home and it wasn’t until 2018 that I had to confront what I had suppressed. The boiling point was when I found out one of my friends who I served with in Iraq had committed suicide in a VA hospital. It was really hard to process because I realized we had physically left the war, but it still wasn’t over for us. We survived Iraq, but why weren’t we surviving the return home? I couldn’t take it so I called Military OneSource and let them know I couldn’t function in life anymore. They sent me an address for support, but the person I was supposed to meet with wasn’t there. However, as that door closed, another opened because in that office was a pamphlet for Headstrong’s services. I was matched with my Headstrong therapist and she adjusted her schedule so I could see her at 5am and still make it to work. I don’t believe many people would do that just to see me. She really helped put the war to rest in my mind and gave me the tools to process my thoughts and sit with the quiet. I’m In charge of 74 service members so I always check on them and ask the tough questions. I’ve had numerous soldiers thank me for sharing my story and ask for help. There’s not a month that goes by that I don’t mention Headstrong because you guys literally helped save my life.”