Marine Veteran

MVP Has Helped Me Come Out Of My Shell

“I was ready to get out of my hometown. I wanted to go places.” Probably not surprising since Tim came from Houston, Mississippi—a small town of 5,000 with only two stop lights. “There were only 95 in my senior graduating class.”

He started community college to get an EMT license, get a nursing degree to become a flight medic. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t studying or paying enough attention in college, andI dropped out.” 

He received a call from a military recruiter who was looking at the list of high school graduates and saw that Tim had never received a recruiting call about joining the military. A few days after that call, he went to the recruiting office and went back a few days later and signed up for the Marines. 

“I had never thought about joining the military, although two of my uncles and maternal grandfather had served. I was at a point in my life that I didn’t know who I was. The idea of getting away from where I was living by traveling, and seeing the world had a strong appeal. My parents hated the idea. Since I was 18, there wasn’t a lot they could do. Now my dad is proud of me being a Marine. I left for boot camp on Mother’s Day in 2004”. 

He spent the first four years in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In 2005, his unit deployed for Iraq. “I talked my way into being a machine gunner because I didn’t want to be a truck driver.”  He was a gunner on the security team, and his vehicle was the fourth in the convoy but the first one out of the gate to make sure it was clear for the others to follow. He often had to clear the roadway and at times forcefully have them move or disable the vehicle if needed.

During his second deployment to Iraq, he had a freak accident trying to move a trailer from a vehicle by himself—usually a three-person job.  “The wheel hadn’t secured, and so it pinned my arm between the hitch and chains—a 1,000 lbs landed on my forearm. No one was close by to help, so I screamed and even threw rocks to get someone’s attention to help me. Finally, people came, and when I saw the horror on their faces when they saw me to yank me out, I knew I was in trouble. I blacked out when they pulled me free and woke up on the ER table from the bright lights and blacked out again; I woke up in a bed and had no memory of what had happened.” He had a crushed arm, and the doctors took one month to decide if he should be sent back to reengage with his unit. “I was sent to Germany for physical therapy and EKGs to evaluate the nerves in my hand. I could barely move my hand, and I had no feeling in it. They sent me home to the U.S., and after a year of more physical therapy, I was able to move my hand but had little grip and no feeling.” 

During this time of recovery, he met his future wife.”She really cared for me during my therapy and helped me get through a lot of other issues I never thought I had—even today she calms me down when I get anxious and stressed in certain situations. The Marines needed to give me a new job and assigned me to the armory where I checked weapons. I spent a year and a half at that job because they had forgotten about my injury.”

Tim somewhat recovered and was able to re-enlist and spent the next four years in Japan. “I traveled a lot to Korea and Hawaii. For the last two years of my service time left, I wanted to continue my career, and the way to do that was get promoted to Staff Sergeant. So, I took the duty as a recruiter. They sent me to Kennesaw, Georgia, and those were difficult years. My new job as an Officer Selection Assistant didn’t allow me to earn the recruiting points I needed for the promotion, which defeated the whole purpose of being on recruiting duty. With that, I asked for an early release from my contract, and I received an Honorable Discharge in 2013.”

“After the Marines, I tried working as a Civilian Recruiter and sent out resumes. I also tried to get on with the Cobb County Fire Department. Finally, I had had enough and needed to make money. I started working as a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver to make ends meet.” From 2014-2016 he used the GI bill to go back to college where he earned a BA in Religion and Christian Counseling. He worked for a civilian staffing agency and was promoted after three months and stayed there a year.

In 2015 he saw a job listed on LinkedIn for a Transition Specialist/Career Coach with Hire Heroes USA helping veterans with resumes and career coaching. He has also worked with veterans at Cherokee County, Georgia, Veterans Court.

Tim heard about MVP from Jarrad Turner, who is with the Warrior Alliance, who had posted information about the Atlanta center’s grand opening on his Facebook page. Tim couldn’t make the grand opening but went there the following week. “ I enjoyed the exercise—it was really intense. Some I couldn’t do, but I took it slow and adapted it to work for me. I’m not physically where I’d like to be.” 

“The people I’ve met at the MVP meetings are so great. It’s hard for me to talk in a lot of situations; my wife is always dragging me to places to get me talking. I struggle with anxiety, stress, and depression from combat—driving and getting stuck in traffic gets me on edge, and loud high pitch noises weird me out. MVP has helped me come out of my shell, and it feels good to start talking with my fellow vets.”