Finding My Light

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Blog written by: John Valley

When I left for deployment, I left everything behind.  I separated myself from things back home to stay focused on the mission and my brothers in arms.  I didn’t realize how separated I was until I returned home.  Everything that once meant the world to me no longer gave me feeling.  On the surface I smiled and held conversations with friends and family.  On the inside, I was torn with where I was and where I should go.

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On one side, I knew a job, house, wife and family was the route that made sense.  I had served my country and was free to live my life.  On the other side, I missed my brothers and the simplicity of living in a war-zone.  When I returned from Afghanistan I didn’t handle assimilation well.  I became a workaholic and an alcoholic.  I worked 60-70 hours a week and when I wasn’t working, I was drinking alone or with my brothers.  With this lifestyle I started to put on weight and eventually I no longer passed the weight standards.  When re-enlistment came up, I talked myself into the idea that I wasn’t re-enlisting because I was done with the Army.  I was afraid and disappointed.  I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get myself in shape again to re-enlist.  I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to live without the bottle to numb reality. And I was disappointed with myself. I let myself go. Because of this, I would no longer be able to be a soldier.

I numbed my feelings of guilt, loneliness, and depression with more alcohol. I had no control, and this made me fall even deeper into the hole I was digging for myself.  I burned a lot of bridges during this part of my life, some I have repaired and some are gone forever.

Through all the ups and downs I had coming home, the one thing that never changed was my wife, Sarah.  She was the foundation of our family’s future.  She was there to support me on my worst days and happily enjoy my best days.  She shined the light at the end of the tunnel and through her compassion, support, and never-ending love, I knew she was going to be there for me as I climbed out of the tunnel.

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I have now been sober for three years. I have re-enlisted and returned to my brothers, I have found that with fitness (mainly endurance sports) I’m able to enter a therapeutic state and think clearly to find guidance within my mind.

Since we joined Team RWB, I have been able to reconnect with the feeling of brotherhood, and this time, Sarah can be a huge part of it.  We continue to share our story, and listen to others.  This has helped us build long-lasting friendships and become a community full of positive and supportive people.  People who come from different walks of life.  People who come together with one goal.  The goal to enrich the lives of American Veterans.

The journey to home is a long one, and as a member of Team RWB I have a role…we all play a part.  Hopefully together, we can continue to help other veterans out of their tunnel and find their light.

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