This Memorial Day, I celebrated and honored my late brother Daniel. Dan was my 2nd youngest brother of three and served in the U.S. Army. He served on a tour in Iraq in 2009. Like too many of our warriors from the decades-long, ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Dan fell by his own hand, never quite able to fully readjust into the civilian population. From the time we were boys growing up in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY, I watched my little brother walk a nearly identical path as mine.
He eventually followed my footsteps and volunteered to serve in the Armed Forces; we both worked on avionics systems on the Sikorsky Blackhawk/Seahawk helicopters respectively; we had visited all the same countries on our deployments (my deployment was 4 years earlier in 2005), and we both struggled with reintegration to civilian society upon our completion of active duty.
After I was discharged in 2006, I spent 10 years battling drug and alcohol addiction, nearly taking my own life on several occasions. Today, I’m happy to report that since then I’ve been sober for nearly five years from alcohol and eight years from opiates. During my sobriety, I witnessed my little brother Dan descend into the same darkness I worked so hard to crawl out of. He died October 12, 2016. I don’t know why I made it through and my little brother did not – but I can tell you that staying actively engaged in service work was my program to sobriety. In other words, staying connected.
It was extremely difficult to see through the fog of depression and addiction, until I rediscovered the power of service in the AmeriCorps programs. Now, I am incredibly proud to call my self a Team Rubicon member and that I continue to serve our brothers and sisters around the world, healing through service with our tribe. Working and serving with other veterans is honest medicine for me and I am grateful to TR for providing such memorable service experiences.