One Veteran's Story
Before I joined the military I was living without a care in the world. I did what I wanted, went where I wanted and spent my money the way I wanted. I had nobody to think about but myself.
I shipped off to basic training without a clue where I was going or what I would learn. Once I was at training, they broke me down without me even knowing.
The military taught me a different life. They taught me when it was okay to use the bathroom, how to treat people, when to eat and when to sleep. They taught me not to question anything, and eventually to forget what it means to question.
Soon I was out of basic training and off to my unit. Just like any job I spent more time with the guys I worked with than in my personal life. Except in military life we spent days and nights together, work became my life. This time together built a brotherly bond.
Things were passed down through this bond that disconnected me from reality. For example: If you get hurt and can't do physical training because of an injury it's joked that you are a "weak body." You don't want to feel weak so you hold in emotions and pain.
After years of being treated this way it became natural and I treated others the same way that I had been treated.
When I left the military the first thing I missed was the comradery of my brothers and sisters. I was no longer around people that acted, spoke and thought like I did.
At this point Civilians started to irritate me. They asked too many questions, were too pick and weren't being fast enough. There were times I would actually get irritated with my wife because she was taking too long to pick out a brand of food at the grocery store, and by too long I meant more than 30 seconds.
I spent six months after I got out of the military draining my savings looking for a job. I went to interview after interview with a flawless resume and could not get a job. The military had a program teaches you how to obtain a job, but they don't prepare you for employers who don't see you as a professional. This led to hard times with finances that I wasn't equipped to cope with.
I refused to ask for help because I was too proud to admit that I was struggling.
Most people who never served looked at me as brave and strong. In reality, I was struggling because I had learned that emotion turned into weakness and that weakness was bad. I didn't show emotion for fear of looking like a weak human. I didn't want to talk about what was hard, or admit that I was struggling. Everything around me started to swirl, and being unable to admit it started to take its toll.
Since leaving the military I have learned a lot. I have learned that I am not weak for feeling emotion. I am brave, I am courageous and I am proud. I have learned that emotion is helpful and that pain doesn't make you weak. I have that there is hope and a place for me in this world. I have people that count on me and giving up is not an option.
I am determined to help my fellow brothers and sisters through the struggles I faced. Too many of them commit suicide because they can't find their path in life. The Joe & Jane Project is an opportunity to help them find their meaning. Please support this campaign! I do and I will.