|I joined the United States Air Force in July 1993 and served until November 1997. I was stationed at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland and served as a Pharmaceutical Compound Specialist on an Emergency Evacuation/Medical Readiness Team, with a Rank of E-4. In August 1996, while on a training mission, we were dispatched to a crash site of a ten aircraft collision. I provided extensive medical attention, treatment, and care to the masses of critically injured service members and the heavy medical trauma cases. For this imperative feat, I was awarded the Air Force Achievement Medal.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was profoundly impacted by that experience – the exposure to death, the deceased, and the severely wounded. As a result, I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I felt like an outdated piece of service equipment and was close to ending my life.
One day, while watching the news on T.V., I saw a statistic announcing that 22 veterans commit suicide every day. That was the pivotal moment for me. It was then I decided I was not going to be one of those appalling statistics. I decided I was going to be part of the solution to remedy this appalling crisis. I decided I was going to get involved somehow in order to help my fellow Veterans overcome and survive that dive in to the depths of despair which so many of us experience. It was this decision that propelled me, after completing my military service, to work in a hospital to do my part to prolong the life of the injured and suffering.
Then, in 2013, I was in a very serious motorcycle accident and almost died. Doctors told me I would lose my leg due to the extensive injuries I had sustained. I refused to accept that prognosis. My unyielding faith in prayer and my deep-seeded belief in miracles sustained me. The surgeons were able to reconstruct my leg! I took this as a sign to further dedicate myself to inspire others through my story of PTSD diagnosis, surviving thoughts of suicide and my own personal tragedy. Because I had been given a second opportunity to return to lead a meaningful and contributory life, my goal became to give back, to fulfill a role in someone else’s life, helping people who may not be able to help themselves – our veterans.