Updated: Jun 10, 2020
The sun had not come out yet. It was a quiet and still morning. I was tired. My body ached. I wanted to sleep. My eyes had a hard time adjusting to the streetlight in the distance. I could hardly make out the flying bugs that were swarming in the rays of the light from the streetlamp. I would catch myself thinking about how nice it would be to fly away. How nice it must be to not have any stress. To leave this hurricane of stress that has become my new life. Then the smell of shaving cream and protein bars would bring me back to the present moment. It was humid and I was already sweating. My under shirt had already begun its spotted beading. At this moment the instructor came out to yell about something or someone. Making everyone aware of his importance. Reminding everyone that we were not him. Encouragement never came from training. It was always a teaching moment to yell. True encouragement from my military leaders came when we were in battle. The great leaders that I had and respected, would lead by example, encouragement, and selflessness. I thank them for teaching me these virtues. At this point in my military career, I was in training and about to do a never wanted ruck march. To explain this simply, a ruck march is a movement formation with gear. While you are marching, you have your gear on your back in a ruck sack, like a backpack but bigger. This sack of gear would weigh approximately 43 lbs. This is never exact and always heavier. We would march quickly but not run for generally, 12 miles. Our ruck sacks have an aluminum frame that is extremely uncomfortable. It digs into parts of your back that never has muscle padding your bones. Rucks would pinch nerves in your shoulders and neck, rub your lower back raw, and cut off circulation to your arms. During the march, we would chaff to point of bleeding in-between our thighs and the bottoms of our feet would blister and tear before even reaching the finish. All of this is known by everyone that is participating. This is nothing new because you learn all of this in basic training. Here we are. Wanting to be the best and certainly giving it everything we have. At this moment, the instructor tells us to get the F*ck up and get ready. The ruck sack on my back was already getting heavy and we had not even taken the first step. I was never the best at ruck marches. That title generally went to the soldier with the longest stride. I was never the worst either. That title went to whoever’s body gave out or tried the least. I was always above the middle of the pack. I took pride in this. I always was competitive and enjoyed knowing I had what it took mentally to complete these joyful events. The key to completing these painful ruck marches was to never stop moving your feet forward in the positive direction. Making sure that each step was a step to bring you closer to the finish. No wasted movements. One forward step at a time for 12 miles.
When I got out of the military and became a veteran, I had forgotten this key to completion. I had forgotten about taking one forward step. I had forgotten what it took mentally to deal with hardships. My body had failed me in the military, and I was retired before I wanted to be done. The truth is, I came home feeling like a failure. I came home without any direction. I came home with multiple injuries including PTSD. A disorder, I previously could not understand to be real. I used to believe it was nothing but weakness. I struggled to deal with my many failures, including not completing twenty years in the military. I came home to a city that had grown immensely. To a family that had grown in numbers and apart. I struggled to keep pace with the innovation of technology. My military career was appreciated but in the big life picture, it didn’t have the hero’s welcome I had pictured in my head. My job was not easily transferable to everyday civilian life. It was hard finding a job, let alone a career. With the feeling of failure, physical pain, and the stress disorder, depression set in and took its toll. Crying in places like the garage, shower, or in the car is done so my wife and daughters do not hear me. Sleeping is an activity I still do not look forward to. Replaying events in my head and recurring smells are triggers that I have learned to ignore. The veteran hospital and doctors do a wonderful job, but cookie cutter methods do not work for me, as well as they all would hope. The prescriptions themselves put me back in the hospital for almost a week. It was in the hospital when everything changed. This was the moment where Christ stood me up. He gave me the strength to take that one forward step. He took me by the hand and gave me hope.
My eyes were opened to a problem, that I truly believe can be fixed. It takes a plan to take one forward step in the right direction. There are veterans out there that need support. Veterans just like myself, who have lost all hope. Men and women who need purposeful love, caring, and attention. Veterans need to know they are never forgotten. Veterans should not be known by a last 4-digit number. It breaks my heart to know there are other veterans out there feeling lost. With E3 IVXP and each other, I believe this can end. Veteran homelessness and veterans suffering alone does not need to happen. The truth is that there is hope. My purpose is to help veterans at all stages in their lives. We all can use a friendly neighbor. My hope is to end veteran homelessness and help those who struggle to find themselves. This goal cannot be reached until the root of the problem is addressed. At E3 IVXP we provide a plan. We offer encouragement, information, and education through real life personal experiences.
We are reaching out to veterans and want to help through ministry, business and life progression coaching. We need your support. We ask that you share and tag anyone thinking of joining the military, currently serving, separating soon, or is already a veteran.
Please visit our website www.e3-project.com
Thank you for your service and God Bless you all.