As veterans, we must adhere to the same laws that we are sworn to protect. We take an oath to protect the country from enemies both foreign and domestic. Even though we are veterans, we are also human. Sometimes humans mess up. Sometimes humans mess up big time and get in trouble with the law. There are many factors that contributed to me getting in trouble with the law.
I walk around with a lot of built up anger. Since the day of my injury in Iraq (June 17th 2007) I live with extreme pain every day. I’ve tried every prescription, acupuncture, seeing the chiropractor, physical therapy, and medication, even tried changing my diet. Nothing worked. So, I swallow this anger internally and store deep down inside like the incredible hulk (Like Mark Ruffalo said “I’m always angry”).
Sometime my hulk comes come out and I lash out at people who don’t deserve it. This has caused me to lose jobs and close relationships with both my family and friends. My life feels like I’m carrying a bucket of water filled to the brim with anger. If even a drop of water drips into the bucket it spills, and all my anger spills out onto the people who don’t deserve it.
I hate feeling like the stereotypical “angry black man”. To deal with my pain and my anger I turn to alcohol to numb the physical and emotional pain. However, what ended up happening is the alcohol gave me the courage to go into full hulk mode (I’m talking worldbreaker hulk) and that’s when things got really bad.
Last year (November 2018) I got into a big argument with my sister. All the anger that I had built up that day was unleashed on her. She got scared, call the police and I was arrested. I was charged with family violence and obstruction to call 911 for hanging up the phone when she tried to call the police during our argument. Luckily instead of going to jail (I was facing three years), I was placed into the Cherokee County Veteran’s Court.
Veteran’s Court is a great option for veterans who are facing legal trouble. I cannot say what charges will and will not be accepted into the court, but I was facing three misdemeanors and three years and jail, and I was able to get in. What’s most important about the court is the team you are assigned helps you get to the bottom of all your issues.
No drugs or alcohol are allowed, and random testing ensures that. However, with the ability to drink taken away I have been able to find other ways to deal with my anger. The headspace app works wonders for my anger. Now, when I feel that hulk coming out, I play a 5 or 10 minute recording on the Headspace app and I’m calm again. A calm veteran makes better decisions.
There are many resources (including apps) to help veterans deal with all the symptoms of PTSD. The men and women who helped defend the country shouldn’t spend time incarcerated if it can be avoided. Alcoholism and opioid abuse are coping mechanisms that I used to help me battle PTSD. It left me drunk, damaged, and demoralized. With the proper support, and a better understanding of PTSD symptoms I now live a more peaceful life.