We ended up deploying to Ramadi, Iraq in March of 2004. We lost 34 Marines, were killed in action, and over 255 were wounded. Out of those 34 Marines, a lot of those guys were my best friends, literally my closest friends. I think that was what really affected me was wondering, why did they have to die? Why did they get killed and not me? Why did I come home with not a one scratch on me when this almost whole battalion– All my other friends have Purple Hearts. I came home with not one scratch on me.
I guess it was a lot of internal wounds that you couldn’t see. Right away, the first thing I did, was start drinking. That was my way of coping with everything was, okay, well, I’ll just get drunk and not worry about it. I had nightmares. I was having nightmares all the time. I’d wake up in cold sweats. There was nights I couldn’t even sleep. I was scared of the dark.
Not only that, but I had my rifle and I had a pistol underneath my bed all the time. Since I’ve been out of the Marine Corps, 2005, I’ve had four friends kill themselves. You know, there was days where– Numerous days, I thought about doing it. There was days when I got this close. You know I got– I put my dress blues on all the way, full decked out, all my medals and everything. I’d sit there with a Glock in my mouth. You know, the trigger would be tight, you know. And then I’d stop and I’d think about it. I’d sit there and I’d cry. It took me a long time to realize that crying and drinking and having all these bad thoughts– My friends that did pass away overseas, they wouldn’t want me to be like that. They wouldn’t want me to be sad every day, and to–
They’d want good things for me. And it took me years, years and years of pain and contemplating suicide to figure out what I should be doing with my life. You know, I just know that–
I just know that my friends wouldn’t want me to be that way. You know, I’ve been sober for over two years. I started my own business. I graduated from college a couple of times. I met this woman. She reminded me that I had this potential to be normal again, what it felt like to love and be loved again, and realize that, okay, I can’t do this on my own. That’s all I needed.
We have way too many brothers and sisters going overseas, coming back home and killing themselves. We cannot let this happen anymore. You cannot have that pain anymore. You need to get up and be that service member you once were. There is no reason why you should be going through this pain. There’s no reason why you should be having these struggles. There are so many people out there that are there to help us. We’ve done our job, and now it’s time for them to do theirs. Take advantage of the help. You need to get up and you need to ask for help. That’s the very first step you need to do.