4266 days ago I swore into the military as a 19 year old kid. I had no direction and no true passions that felt obtainable. I struggled with confidence and assertiveness allowing others to be happy before myself. I dropped out of college after a year because I didn’t want to commit to doing things that were hard and challenging. I had a weak mindset from being pushed down so many times.
Roughly 4 months after leaving college to pursue dead end jobs— I found out that I was going to be a dad. I’ll be honest, I didn’t give my wife the reaction she deserved. I was young still trying to navigate who I was and where my path was going but little did I know that baby boy would be the path I was meant to be on. We quickly made the decision that the military would be the most secure way to provide for our growing family, so I enlisted.
The first 4 years were so challenging. I was gone for 200+ days out of the year, new state, newly weds, and now new parents. To say I struggled internally would be an understatement. We debated back and forth if this was truly for us. Did we want to keep moving and starting over every few years? After many sleepless nights and long talks, my wife said they (2 kids now) would follow me wherever this life took us, so WE re-enlisted for 4 more years in hopes things would turn around not only in my career but internally.
During my 6 months of schooling for aviation I collapsed and was hospitalized 2 days following my Low Pressure Chamber training. My career and quality of life for my family was now in jeopardy. After long discussions with my Commanding Officers they offered to go to bat for me to keep me from losing my career. After 6 months of no flying, no driving, no operating machinery and 5 years of neurology testing I was finally granted a permanent medical waiver that cleared me.
Things finally turned around for us. Over the next 5 years we welcomed 3 more babies, bought 2 homes and I was able to travel seeing some amazing things I never thought were possible for me. I was part of amazing crews over that time. For the first time I believed I found my niche. I can do hard things. We worked humanitarian missions for hurricanes, testifying in court against drug cartel, and to saving people who felt like all hope was lost. I felt like I had a purpose, a path. Life was great! Then 2020 came about.
Mandates. Careers threatened. We spent so many days and nights talking about the mandated experimental vaccines that were coming. Was it worth my health for a career? This is where I may lose people but my hope is that I don’t. My contract was ending July of 2021– one month before military was required to be tested on (per usual). The decision was hard, but I can do hard things now. My hand felt forced. It was unfair that I had to choose between my career or my health. Looking back over my previous 10.5 years transitioning from a scared directionless boy to a confident man who has values and morals— I knew this was going to be hard. My happiness and my families happiness comes before any person or career. I applied for a Religious Accommodation expressing my views, my beliefs and why I am choosing to fight back. After months of being dragged through the mud, shaming and segregation I was informed the military doesn’t agree with my beliefs. I, then, appealed the process pouring my heart and soul onto the paper. This was a hill I was willing to die on, not just for me but for my wife and now 6 children who are watching me. For their freedoms.
We didn’t get to this point in history because of weak men and women. After 1 year and 1 month I was finally terminated from the military—never being allowed to enlist again. For the first time in my life I was unknowingly depressed. I struggled internally thinking I made a mistake. Everything I worked for and fought for I left behind. I watched the walls around me begin to crumble. I fell into a deep dark hole in my mind. It was lonely and it was numbing. I expressed my feelings to no one. I hated waking up. I found no purpose. After about 6 dark months I finally crawled my way out with the help of my family. I realized that it wasn’t me that lost something, it was the military. They lost a free thinking, fighter. They lost a confident leader. They lost someone who wasn’t afraid of hard anymore.
As of September 30, 2022 I am no longer apart of the military, 4266 days I served my country. My chains have come off and I am a free man for the first time since 2011. I am not saying this to disrespect the military because it helped mold me into the person I am today. I am not shaming anyone who took the vaccine to save their careers. I get it, our hands were forced. I’m sorry you had to make that choice. I am now over a year into this on the other side here to tell you that standing up to fight for what you believe in is hard, but we can do hard things. 🙏🏼
‘I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees.’
Our Greight Escape