Battling through addictions became my new mission

-Hi, my name's David Served in the U

S Army National Guard from 2001 to 2013 Being in downtown Baghdad, you never knew who the enemy was You never knew what the intent of the person that you were walking through the crowd or the marketplace was Very, very stressful times

Kind of developed a very healthy alcohol addiction You're expected to get back into civilian life and just kind of be good to go And the military teaches you to — trains you to be a soldier They don't train you to be a civilian So, transition was definitely a difficult task

It was very daunting I actually started hanging out with the wrong folks, and I started getting into hallucinogens and mixing that with alcohol and all kinds of stuff, and just not being who I should be as, number one, a father, a husband, a soldier

Ended up landing myself in the hospital, in the ER, because I was so high I was gone [ Sighs ] Went back home after getting out of the E

R, and my wife kind of gave me an ultimatum She was like, "It's either your family or that, what you're doing You need to pull your head out of your ass, start doing what you need to do" It's kind of after that I made the determination, really started doing some soul searching

I was like, "You know, I'm not going to let myself be defined by my disabilities anymore" Even though I was just a National Guardsman at the time, I was still expected to maintain tact and bearing outside of the uniform, as well, and I wasn't doing that And I got pulled into our medical commander's officer, and he was like, "Sergeant Donaldson, where are you trying to go?" "Back to Iraq with my boys, sir" And he was like, "Well, that's not going to happen" He knew what he was doing by sending me to the V

A So, I went down there and got enrolled and everything else and started seeing therapists and started seeing different mental health practices So, started engaging in services, 'cause I knew I got to beat this You know, I can't live like this I don't want to live like this

And started helping the guys that had not been through it And kind of found out — I was like, "Wow, so I can't fight in the war anymore, but there's a new war" Battling with recovery, battling through the symptoms, battling through the addictions — That's the new war, and that became my new mission I think my relationships have gotten a lot better I mean, my relationships with my family now, my kids are my life

Everything I do is for them Everything And I am a better man because of it You know, I'm so thankful that I didn't lose them during that time, and I was able to recover from that Don't keep to yourself

Don't isolate You have to reach out You have to reach out So many of us military folk are bound by pride We let pride get in the way of our recovery

The main issue is not being connected to those resources They're out there It's — You have to have the willingness to accept the help

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