Approximately 10 years ago I left the Air Force, which was a difficult decision based on the belief I had to make a choice between my own family and my military family. I thought I had adjusted well enough after separation, but I was actually just ignoring the signals that I wasn’t ok. It wasn’t until I had a flashback, involving my middle child, and seeing the terror on his face, did I start to accept I truly wasn’t fine.
Luckily, the first person I went to and said, “I need help” made a phone call and spent the day with me at the VA while I was admitted. I was given the tools to cope but slowly I felt I was treading water rather than moving forward. I was missing something…
I tried engaging with other veterans but felt uncomfortable disclosing how broken I was, even though they may have felt the same. Then I read about Team Rubicon in a magazine article and immediately wanted to find out more.
I originally had a vacation planned during the time of the PATRIOT Exercise but when I found out the event was happening in my state, I cancelled my vacation and immediately signed up. Some may ask why I would want to cancel a vacation, especially one already planned, but once you belong to the TRibe, vacations cannot replace the passion and importance we feel for our mission.
TR made it possible for me to step out of my comfort zone, in a safe manner, both physically and emotional, so I can grow and move forward. This girl who has never operated anything bigger than a riding lawn mower enrolled in the Heavy Equipment Class.
I’m excited about becoming a Heavy Equipment Operator for Team Rubicon, and another thing I’ve taken away from the experience is the camaraderie. It’s a great feeling being able to talk to other members of the TRibe with similar life journeys and goals. While at PATRIOT, I’ve had multiple conversations in regards to “my story.” During one, I made the statement “I am broken; we are all broken some how,” and I received the response, “we are not broken, we are bent.” It helps me realize there are others who are just like me and I hope that others who may be in the same situation know they’re not alone.
I’ve met some wonderful people, who like myself, are able to stop treading water and move forward with Team Rubicon’s mission to help others, in turn, helping ourselves. They have become my family, my TRibe.