This was written and added to my book in 2015. But I feel it is a stand alone section that can improve anyone ability to transition from the military into the Veteran and Civilian communities.

 

I’m adding this Chapter in after 10 months of retirement. I honestly cannot believe that it has been this long already since I got out. There have been some hic-ups along the road. We did a trip to California to meet with Genie Labored with 18 other Combat veteran’s ranging from Vietnam, Somalia, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan. We were blessed with the opportunity to learn Neuro Linguistic Programing (NLP) from one of the pioneers in that industry. It was pretty awesome, not going to lie. I was given the chance to sing in front of billionaires, the children of kings and queens from Africa and people in the movie, television and music industry. It was pretty amazing! Not long after that trip I was afforded the chance to be at the Farmer Veteran Coalition’s (FVC) National Stakeholders conference. A Trip to Des Moines Iowa and some amazing contacts were made.

I’ve had the blessing of getting to know some of the best group of veterans ever. Radio hosts, fellow authors, Musicians, and so much more. In January of 2014 I came to Franklin Tennessee to finally meet in person my publisher Robbie Grayson and his amazing family. We started looking for a house while we visited for four days. We looked at about three houses and the last one we looked at is the one we got. Brentwood, TN. Loving life more than I ever have. The one thing that I have going for me that other Veterans don’t? A “Mentor”. Now here’s the best part. There is a method to my madness. In the Army we have what is called Battle Buddies. Whatever you do, wherever you go you always have a battle buddy. Someone you trust and have confidence in. Someone you trust. Veterans by nature (specifically combat veterans) can be a very non-trusting people. I’m one of them. Luckily for me I was able to get to know my “Mentor” over a two year period before I needed to completely lean on him.

Here is what we need in our period of transition which covers before during and after.

  1. A Mentor on the outside. Someone who has already transitioned or someone who is already in the area you are going, if it’s somewhere new. They should be tied into the local networks of business owners or at least veteran friendly companies.
  2. Creating a solid resume. I cannot express enough how important this is. Most of us don’t realize that our military occupations actually do transfer over to civilian skills. It’s just how do we sell it? How about an example that a lot of us don’t think about. Equipment and accountability. I was signed for 2.4 million dollars in Medical equipment while in Iraq. I owned it and took care of it and turned it in with every penny accounted for. Accountability and supply resource management. That’s a pretty great way of saying it. Let’s be perfectly honest here. If you were in a leadership position of any kind, then you more than likely you can use this kind of experience situation. So having someone that can help you word your resume so that your military experience translates into a language that transfers into what civilians will understand.
  3. Get plugged in. If you’re not going home back to the place where you entered the military then you need to get plugged in. If you’re going back home then you need to get plugged back in! I can’t express how important it is. My buddy and publisher Robbie lived in the area we decided to go to for 16 years. He is an entrepreneur and very tied in to the local areal. He introduced me and my family to an entire network of people. By the time we ended up moving to Tennessee I had an entire network of friends and an interview already set up before I even walked into town. By having a Mentor, Creating a solid resume, and Getting plugged in I ended up walking into a house, jog, and community of friends. It was to the point of seamless.
  4. Get tied in. If it’s a completely new area like it was for me then you need to get tied in to the local veteran community. I’m not talking about getting set up and hanging out at the VA. The VFW or DAV daily. What I am saying is find some local vets. Connect and watch each other’s backs. It will make you feel better to have someone with the same background. I was blessed enough not only to make great civilian friends but I ended up getting tied into the local veteran community and making some amazing connections as well. A good friend I have made always says that we as Warfighters/veterans need to have a mission. It’s part of what is killing us. As a community we are sitting on our butts doing nothing. Working our 9-5 or collecting our disability. Find a mission. Help others transition. Heap others find a path to healing. Do something! Don’t just sit there and wait for things to happen. Make them happen.

Stay off the couch. It all starts with a decision. Not a choice! A choice is static; it has no intent or action to it. It’s a decision that has to be made by the warfighter who needs healing. The decision is dynamic. It is the result of having a choice to make. The decision in itself is action. We need to take not just personal responsibility but personal action. We need to have the attitude of “Get off the couch” and do something in order heal. Pills and therapy are not a cure! They are tools. We need to open up and dig into our “tool Box” and take inventory of the tools at our disposal. Warfighters at times don’t give themselves enough credit when it comes to personal healing. Will this road map work for all of us? NO. Just like PTS(d) doesn’t affect us the same from one to another. What does it boil down to? What decisions are we making? We make decisions based on the choices presented to us. The problem as I see it is we have at times blinders on to the choices laid out in front of us. It’s a combat created tunnel vision. Once we take off the blinders we are able to see all the other options.

 

Gardening, fishing, models, art, music, helping other Warfighters, working out, sports, writing, learning something new. These are just the tip of the ice berg for options on a path to healing. But we can’t do any of this will being passive about it. We can’t just have a choice to make. We have to make a decision. Find a hobby you can get lost in, one that at the end of the day you have lost all track of time. It’s not avoidance, it’s a distraction. It’s a decision to “get off the couch” and take an active aggressive stance in your personal healing. A great friend of mine coined the word “STAGREPA”, it means “Stand aggressive, React passive”. I don’t feel there is a better way to explain what we need to do without it! It’s a decision to change our thought process. When I talk about my situation I call it “My PTS(d)”. I have taken ownership of it. I have made the decision to go after it rather than let it have ownership of me. Creating an area of active healing over passive healing for me. For me it was three main things with a host of other smaller ones. The three main pillars were my Faith, My music, and my Gardening, things that I already had a passion for. For others it might me completely something else. But you have to get up and start somewhere.

 

Why gardening has worked for me? I feel it has a couple of things. First is hands in the soil. Allowing the skin to absorb the minerals. Second, is seeing and assisting in the creation of life as opposed to seeing or inflicting death in war. It creates a balance we have been missing. Hopefully it will create new memories that will eventually override and replace the negative ones. Music is another place where I probably will leave some people behind due to my feeling on it. This part and my faith kind of are intertwined and I speak only for myself on this part.  When I got home from my first deployment I scrubbed my entire music library and removed anything that wasn’t from a “Christian” artist. I have since selectively added “secular” musicians back in. Writing lyrics inspired by my internal struggles. For me it was a removal of all the negativity. I needed upbeat and positive things coming in. That part there is a choice. I also dug deeper into my Bible and focusing more on my faith. For you it might be something else. But let’s be real. You have to start somewhere. I hope this helps you or you share it with someone and it helps them.

 

Now understand that the transition also isn’t just transitioning from the Military into the Veteran community. I also transitioned from the Medications to organic supplements. I’m going to give a list of the different things I take but understand and remember I said before that I am not a medical doctor and I am only telling you what I have done and has worked for me.

Anxiety and Depression: Kava Kava powder. Kava is a root that grows in the Tongan Islands. When taken it creates a reaction in the intestines that causes your body to produce its own Serotonin.  Serotonin being the hormone in the body that helps with Anxiety. Gaba which is a natural Mood Elevator. I take 750mg a day. It helps with the dopamine receptors and with the ability to not hold onto anger when it arises due to a PTSD episode. Niacin 500mg non-flushing. There are hundreds of studies of people who take high doses of Niacin to help with depression and have seen some phenomenal results. I’m one of them. I started taking these three things in place of a high dose of Celexa. Yes it’s three pills in place of one. But I no longer walk around smelling like a fecal factory. True Story. For added benefit I also take a B-12 and a B-complex.

Liver Support: Due to the fact that Kava can cause damage to the liver if used for extended periods of time I take a Milk Thistle supplement to help with cleaning and supporting my liver. Once a year I go in and have what’s called a Liver Functions Test done or LFT. So far perfect levels!

Sleep: I was on 50mg of Seroquel which totally burned my ability to fall asleep without it. Even doing a double shot of Nyquil wouldn’t touch because of how strong that stuff is. And guess what a side effect is……Suicidal Ideation and Fecal smell. Seriously! I can’t make this up people! After I transitioned from the Celexa to the Alternatives I took about a week and then decided to start the transition from Seroquel to Melatonin with 5HTP. I actually went about 3 weeks of no sleep meds before I started taking the Melatonin 5HTP. The 5HTP is a heavy protein that helps the Melatonin get you into a deeper sleep once it all kicks in. The great part is not feeling like a zombie in the morning!

Night Sweats: Potassium, Magnesium, and D3. Studies have shown that the body when night sweating burns excess amounts of Potassium and Magnesium. Problem is that the body won’t absorb most of it without taking a D3 supplement. Not really a big problem in my estimation.  This adds to the not feeling zombiefied in the morning. So yeah again, I’m not a Doctor and I am not giving medical advice. This is a document of what I have done for me and what has worked. I have had hundreds of Warfighters come to me and ask what I am taking. I even had a Doctor at the VA give me kudos for what I am taking. I can tell you that since I have transitioned from the dope to the organics I haven’t felt better. If you want to try it then I highly suggest doing it under a doctor’s supervision. Good luck and God bless!

 

AWG Book

Advertisements