The reason I’m taking part in the Walk Of America is because in 2006 I was wounded in combat. I lost my right eye and my shoulder. And they fixed me up when I left the hospital and I went back to work. But it wasn’t until four years later that I was diagnosed with a brain injury, PTSD and depression. For all that time I just had no idea why I couldn’t remember anything. I was losing my mind. I would just stay in my house and I wouldn’t want to leave because that was my only ‘safe place’.
Once I was diagnosed, at least I had the answers, but even then I didn’t get help because I didn’t really know where to go. I eventually found a non-profit-organisation who helped me and we went hiking in the mountains, and it gave me a sense of peace for the very first time since I was wounded.
I want others to know that there is help out there and they shouldn’t be suffering alone.
It was a friend of mine – another agent who was wounded in combat a year and a half before me and who went to the South Pole with Walking With The Wounded – who contacted Vicks [the Expedition Manager] and submitted my name for the team. She encouraged me!
So far, the expedition has been really awesome and really hard. I’m not social at home, I really, really limit my socialization with others, so being around people all the time, I doubt why I’m here almost daily. But in other aspects, when you talk to the people you meet and you get to give your story – it makes it worth it and it reminds me why I’m here. Like today, a woman grabbed my hand and said: “Thank you for saying this, because they need to know women are out there and they need to know that women are being wounded too.” It justifies it all.
I’m learning more patience. I’m learning that it’s okay not to be in control of every situation and to trust others that they are steering me in the right direction.
After the attack, I fought so hard to regain control of my life. Here on the expedition – being told what to do and where I need to be at certain times, it’s very challenging. But I keep in my mind that there’s a reason for it.
Every day that I walk with the others and talk to them, it’s made me realise that we’re all the same. Yes, we have different stories, but they’re the same stories at the same time. We all have the same issues and so it’s nice being around people who ‘get’ you. You can say whatever you want, and no one’s looking at you funny or holding judgment against you.
I would wholeheartedly encourage anyone out there to do something like this if you’re given the opportunity. If you have the time, and you need to do something to help you – just do it.