What our Lifers are Saying
After returning home from Afghanistan in 2012 from a one-year combat deployment, I had trouble sleeping, due to nightmares and flashbacks. I avoided loud noises and crowds of people. I struggled to maintain relationships. Shortly after my deployment, my contract was up and I left the ARMY. I tried to join civilian life, but was ill prepared. I quickly found drugs and alcohol. Finally, I could sleep. And I thought I had found a solution. However, drugs and alcohol brought me down so fast. I began to feel so lonely, depressed, and tired that I thought the only way out was suicide. Within one year of leaving the ARMY, I attempted suicide.
Fortunately my attempt failed and I survived. I began my recovery journey at the VA hospital in Washington D.C. There, I learned of 12-step based programs that help people with substance abuse. Few of the members of those groups shared the common bond of serving our country in time of war, and I did not immediately feel a part of. But I could relate to much of what was offered, and eventually after working the 12-steps, I recovered from drugs and alcohol.
That left the issue of PTSD. I had done CBT training, mindfulness training, and EMDR training with the VA. All of which was very helpful. However, I was still missing my brothers in arms. I knew as veteran; I wasn’t alone in recovery from PTSD. But I didn’t have the same network developed like I did with alcohol and substance abuse.
When I first heard of FOB Rasor through a friend, a fellow combat veteran who is in recovery from PTSD and substance abuse, I was immediately excited. He told me that veterans were gathering and using the 12-steps to help with PTSD and invited me to attend. I have been a regular attendee to FOB Rasor’s Saturday meetings for 9 months since my first meeting. The work that Gunny Ski has done and the passion in helping other veterans recover from PTSD is truly inspiring. No one is better qualified to help others overcome the difficulty of PTSD than those who have and continue to walk that path. That is what FOB Rasor offers. A small community of men and women who choose to keep fighting, who choose to keep protecting and guiding each other trudge this road so that none of us ever have to feel like the only way out is suicide. I am truly grateful to be a part of this fight.
I was suffering from depression and feeling like no one I knew understood me. I would self-medicate with alcohol and literally felt like I had nothing going for me. School was not for me because of the depression and alcohol usage and the fact that I was out of the Marines made it even worse. I was always searching for something to belong to and to find people with the same mind set and humor as mine. I would go to the VA for treatment and tried the group therapy, but everyone there always tried to one up every story. When Gunny Shilanski reached out to me for FOB Rasor and I went to one of the meetings that’s when I found my home that I was looking for. Guys that understand where I am coming from and have been thru the same experiences and have advise instead of stories of when they were in and what they did. It’s a place that you and express your thoughts and struggles and have someone pick you up. FOB Rasor is also the place that if you needed someone to talk to 24/7 someone would answer on the phone, they would even show up to you location to make sure you’re ok that’s the Brotherhood I was missing and I have found it at FOB Rasor
I was a Police officer for 25 years. During that time, I developed PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Anger, hurt, suicidal, marital issues and social issues. I have been to counseling and taken medication, it didn’t work. Two years ago the bottom dropped out from under me. All the things listed above all crashed in and I thought all was over. Since counseling and medicine didn’t work, I tried putting myself back together - by myself. It wasn’t working.
About 8 months ago, A friend set up a meeting with Jeff of FOB Rasor. He drove over an hour to meet me in person. He shared his story and I shared mine. I have been meeting virtually with the group on Saturdays, since that day. Although it’s only an hour, it makes my week. There is something about hanging out with a group that has the same problems you do. Knowing that others share these issues has changed my life. When you suffer these horrific brain traumas, you feel alone, embarrassed and ashamed. You feel like an outcast and as if everyone is staring at you. It’s terrible.
FOB Rasor is my place to feel “safe” again and recharge for another week. All the men and women who attend these are real. Real stories, real emotions.
I am a first responder who at one point was an uncontrolled alcoholic and on the brink of suicide. After many years allowing what I had experienced at work build up, I suddenly found myself in a dark place I was unable to control nor escape. I tried many avenues of counseling, therapy and group meetings. One of the worst group experiences I had was where I was told to refrain discussing my trauma because it was too traumatizing for the group. I sat there stunned because I had no where to go. Needless to say, I ended up losing my job, nearly divorced and close to losing my home. Fortunately, I ran across someone at an AA meeting that knew Jeff from FOB Rasor and gave me his contact information. It was a breath of fresh air to be part of a group of like minded people. While first responders and veterans each have their own traumatic experiences, we are the same in regards to traditional therapy, our experiences are not appropriate for regular people to listen to. We have our own special needs. FOB Rasor is that place to serve us like minded people. It is a safe have for use to talk about our pain and addictions without fear of being judged. A group like this is necessary for us who are struggling to cope with the outside world. A world that does not understand what we are going through. With the help of Jeff, my brothers and sisters at FOB Rasor, I was able to learn how to deal with the experiences I was not allowed to discuss in traditional therapies. The best part is that I am SOBER, still married, I did not loose my home and I was able to get my career back once the administration saw such of a huge change in me. I love these guys and gals!
I have been a part of FOB Rasor from the beginning. To be honest, I knew that I had PTSD but didn’t really think there was anything that I could do about it. I am a Marine and a retired State Trooper. I managed to make it on my own for quite some time. I abused alcohol as a result of it. I started going to AA and Jeff ended up being my sponsor, prior to him starting FOB Rasor. When I sobered up, the PTSD began to manifest a little more. I still thought I could manage it on my own.
I began to go to FOB Rasor, just to show support and to do what I could to help others. As it turns out, it helped me a ton. My night terrors have lessened greatly. My anxiety in new places and around unknown people is much less. I have met some new people through the FOB and there is something very comforting about knowing that you are not alone in your issues. We truly are a big family there. It has been incredibly helpful for me and has also been heartwarming to see others grow. I don’t attend as much as I would like to but it is due to a living amends with my family. As an alcoholic, I was not there for my wife or my kids and I have made it my mission for the rest of my life to put them first.
I really can’t say anything bad at all about FOB Rasor – other than how far they are from me. LOL. I live in Kingwood. But if they were in Dallas, I would still attend the same amount that I do now. Jeff is my brother. I will always be grateful to him for helping me get to the bottom of my madness and continuing to help me walk in my journey. He is ALWAYS there for me and for everyone else as well. No matter what he is doing or what time of day it is, he will drop what he’s doing to talk to you. It is based on a 12 Step program. It helps you not just change the bad behavior in yourself, like drinking, but it changes the entire way you look at life. It completely changes your perspective on things. Things that used to baffle you are now easy to understand and deal with.
This past couple of weeks with everything going on in Kabul and the drawdown from Afghanistan, it hit me really hard. The death of the Marines in Kabul really got to me. Again, for whatever reason, I thought I was alone in my grief and anger. But talking to Jeff and others in the FOB, I learned that I was not alone. We were able to talk about it. To voice our frustrations and our anger in a healthy manner. After the events over there I can honestly say that I probably would have landed myself in jail had it not been for the men and women of the FOB, that I call family.