My name is David and I am a veteran. I am also an alcoholic.
I don’t know exactly when I became an alcoholic, but I have always looked for a way to feel different. From alcohol and marijuana to painkillers and methamphetamines, I spent the better part of 25 years numbing myself in some form or fashion.
In 1999, I joined the United States Army as an infantryman. I completed basic training and mechanized school at Ft. Benning, Georgia that summer before being assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment at Ft. Hood, Texas. As an infantryman, my duties were simple – give the enemy an opportunity to die for his country as I would die for mine. I spent the next four plus years on mountaintops and in deserts preparing and doing just that. Uncle Sam took me all over the world, introduced me to people I still call friends today, and showed me some amazing things.
One would think that joining the military would help a man get the upper hand in the battle against his devils. For many, it may have… but not me. In fact, it was quite the opposite. The military took a poor boy from Nowhere, Tennessee, gave him a pocket full of money, and sent him to all sorts of fun places in the world. Now let me be clear, the Army did not make me an alcoholic, but it sure did hone my skills.
My post-military life was marked with great successes followed by crushing failures. Marriages, jobs, attempts at sobriety, and personal relationships all came and went as I continued to make poor choices and live life with untreated alcoholism and mental health issues. This all culminated in May 2017 when I was charged with murder because of a drunk driving crash that killed someone. My alcoholic selfishness had led me to take the life of an innocent, someone my time in the Army had taught me to protect. It was the ultimate bottom. My life was over, and in my mind, it deserved to be over. Little did I know, that was when life really began.
My greatest stumbling block became my ultimate steppingstone and in October 2018, the court sent me to a new program for veterans that was starting at The Healing Place. Recovery has a way of putting you in front of the people that you need to be in front of and those individuals just happened to be here. I heard hard truths, was shown unconditional love, and witnessed gratitude in action. The Healing Place taught me humility, accountability, and the importance of giving back. It also showed me that life isn’t always fun, but on the days it isn’t, I don’t have to make it worse by getting drunk.
Today, I have been given the opportunity to come back to the very place that helped me save my life and work with guys who are just like me – veterans who have hit their bottoms and are trying to do something different. There is something to be said about our veterans; we are own breed. It makes my day when a client accomplishes a goal or reaches a milestone in their recovery. Every vet that I meet leaves an impression and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to help another veteran.
As the motto says, “Never leave a fallen man behind.”
Happy Veterans Day
The Healing Place Veterans Program offers housing and clinical services to veterans who are homeless and/or struggling with substance abuse at no cost to the client. Many of them arrive with few belongings. If you would like to help those in our Veterans Program, you can click here to shop from our Amazon Wish List to have items shipped directly to our facility.