I served two tours in Iraq as an Infantryman. When I came home, I lost my way and turned to substances to cope. I was told I had readjustment issues and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by providers at the VA hospital. They prescribed multiple medications along with an intrusive VA caseworker who treated me as if I were incapable. After a year and a half of this ineffectual care, I ran. I found short reprieves from my mental health conditions while on the road, but they were always followed by severe bouts of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. I gave up, expecting that death was soon to follow, but instead I found myself incarcerated.
I met Mike Orban shortly after being locked up. He reached out to me on behalf of my mother. The process of gaining trust in Mike was slow, given my experience with broken promises, manipulation, and forced treatment on the part of the VA and its providers. What made the difference, was Mike was a fellow Infantryman with combat experience in Vietnam, and he still held the warrior ethos close to heart. This had been missing ever since I returned from Iraq, and so naturally, I gravitated towards Mike’s help, and I gained an unshakable trust in his judgment.
Since that time, I have graduated from college and found myself in a career that allows me to pass on to the individuals I work with, what Mike and others, did for me at my low point. I keep in contact with Mike and try to stay engaged with every new initiative he takes on, because I know his work facilitates positive change in the lives of people like me.