I was wounded in Iraq on December 18th, 2006 from a 107mm rocket that landed 8 feet away and took 5 inches off of my right femur. I struggled with survivor’s guilt as one of my partners, Captain Kevin Kryst, was also hit and died next to me on the operating table. Recovery and staying on active duty was a struggle, but I retired as a MSgt/E8 in 2016 after 20 years in the United States Marine Corp as an Intelligence Operations Chief. It was right after my injury that I turned to alcohol to help me deal with the emotional aftermath. My life spun out of control and eventually, it became clear that I needed to get sober. 2013 was the year I achieved that goal.
The gift from my struggles with alcohol was the clarity my sobriety brought to my life. I was able to gain new tools for life’s toolbox that stopped me from turning to alcohol to cope with my struggles. I leaned on my higher power and realized that I am not walking through life alone.
I was helped by others during this entire process. Through their support, I’ve become passionate about serving others in any way I can. I also have the drive to not only live for myself but also live for Capt. Kevin. I want to be the employee, son, husband and father, brother, and friend that Kevin would be proud of.
It was a hard journey, but I am now six years without alcohol.
Sharing Your Gift
For other people struggling with a similar situation, what advice do you have?
It’s okay to NOT be okay. Reach out your hand for help. Seek the help you need. GET HONEST and GET TO WORK! There is a better way to live life without self-medication. It is a BLESSING to be present (sober) ALL the time.
How did this struggle change your perspective?
I was given a second chance at life, and now live one day at a time. I want to be of service each and every day to others and my family. BE PRESENT! Tomorrow is not a guarantee.
Where are you now? How did the gift from this experience help you get here?
I am the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy Site manager for Joint Base San Antonio, TX. I GET to be of service to veterans, to aid and transition service members every day. My gift allowed me to be of service to a friend who does the same job in California. He saw the change in me and understood my passion for helping others, then decided to recommend me for my current position.
Have you found a way to pay it forward?
I GET to be PRESENT 24/7 for my friends, family, and veterans that need or want assistance with transition, or just life in general. I get to share my sobriety story with others that may be struggling with substance abuse. I GET to aid others in choosing to realize how blessed we really are in the United States of America. I GET to be of service to my church and local community.