Transitioning out of the service is rough. The grueling process of transitioning back to civilian life is tough for just about everyone in one way or another. For me, the hardest part of transition was trying to reconnect with my old life back home. I knew who I was before I joined the Army; I most certainly knew who I was after my service as well.
I changed. I look at life differently now; things that don’t bother the average civilian bothered me. I felt disgruntled, unaccepted into this new life. I thought all I had for support and help with my problems was my wife and daughter. I slowly began to hide my issues and depression from my family. It felt as if I crawled into a cage, locked myself in, and threw out the key. I was a mess.
As my good friend, SSG Wilson, would have said, my life was starting to look like a “Spilt bowl of fuck”. I already failed at two jobs. One of them because I just couldn’t take driving a delivery truck on the highway anymore because of a back injury I have. The other was a construction job I quit because of the fact I was away from my family every single night. I just didn’t fit in. I knew it was time for a change in my life. I believe the next decision in my life was the greatest of all. It truly saved me.
I decided to try school. It was definitely something new for me, and I didn’t know what to expect. I really had nothing to lose. I got put in a class called FYS “Back from the Front” taught by David Chrisinger. I thought to myself, “More shit about transitioning out of the military, GREAT!” I quickly learned that expectation wasn’t the case.
To me, this class was exactly what I needed, and it couldn’t have come at any better time. Not only did I get to start writing my thoughts out and expressing my problems on paper instead of talking to someone, I made some great friends in the class. It became another brotherhood, just like in the service. When I was in the Army, I learned real fast that the friends I made in my unit were the most caring, and they always had my back. The same went for the people in this class.
I remember one night I was out on the square downtown drowning my anxiety and stress in an extremely large amount of alcohol with some old buddies I had before the service, as well as a friend I made in the class named Tyler. Nobody except Tyler seemed to care about me, or sense anything was wrong with me. He was there to talk about everything on my mind at the time. At that moment, I knew I had brothers back home the same as I did when I was in the service.
I finally started to feel at ease in my life again. I started to express everything I had on my mind on paper. The feeling of freedom inside me was remarkable. Knowing I could talk to Tyler, or even my teacher David, about anything going on was such a relief of stress off my shoulders. I was finally feeling free.
I was living my life again. I was being the best father to my daughter I could possibly be, and I was becoming a loving husband to my wife again. I was finding ways to productively deal with my stress and anxiety instead of relying on so much alcohol and depression pills. I found my “Therapeutic Drinking Buddy” in Tyler, where we could go sit in the boat, moderately enjoy a few beers, and just ramble on and bitch about life and laugh.
Because of David’s “Back from the Front” class, I am finally able to enjoy life again the way I want it to be. I have a network of Veteran buddies whom I know would have my back through anything. But most of all, I have a happy family at home.
Cutting this class at UWSP would be absolutely devastating. It’s easy for civilians to openly look at the class and say it’s not a priority to keep; however, I can say from the bottom of my heart, that this class is the sole reason why my transition back into civilian life has finally become a success story instead of a nightmare. It’s the reason I finally wake up with a smile in the morning and look forward to what this new day will bring me. It’s truly the reason I can live in peace again.