Everything changed forever the moment I sustained a traumatic brain injury August 1, 2015. This event led down a journey of the destruction of my world as I knew it. I was an officer in the Air Force, a Psychiatrist, and finishing the 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado, who became the shell of a person within a moment. The brain injury was only the beginning of a year that included rape and four more concussions. Although I had been a master at pushing down my failures, emotions, mistakes, and flaws, I had faced more than I could handle. As everything was laid bare, I came to face to face with the darkness within me. The masks I had worn proving my worth were burned off from the traumas, but instead of being left in ashes, I felt an all-consuming love envelop me. A love I knew I did not earn or deserve. This love empowered me to stop shutting my eyes so tightly in despair, shame, and guilt, and I began to unclench my fists to receive God’s love, forgiveness, and grace. I experienced moral wounds, trauma, and loss, but received freedom, a greater purpose and my restored sense of wonder that had been lost long before these traumas.
The invaluable lessons I learned through this journey have enabled me to understand the power of trauma and the devastations that come with it. However, the greatest lesson I learned was knowing that God's love is more powerful than any darkness we could ever face. I began prioritizing my loves and diving deeper into God’s love through stepping out on faith and trust. God never let go of me, even in my worst moments. The knowledge of that unconditional love empowers me to see the darkness within me and frees me to step into a life God has prepared for me no matter how uncomfortable, unpredictable, and unknown it may be.
This is what led me to start a Christian organization called Advancing Warriors International in order to provide community and support to those men and women who have stared evil in the face and are living with the repercussions in isolation. We are not meant to be alone. I needed a tribe who understood my pain and hurt, and they do too. Through Advancing Warriors International, I have seen incredible, miraculous, and quick transformations and healing within the lives of the participants. Veterans and first responders are starting to experience joy for the first time, their relationships have dramatically changed for the better, and they are getting their lives back. The trauma I faced is being used to help others break free from the power of their own traumas, and now they are helping others to find the same freedom. They are finding this healing through Christian based therapy, peer support mountain retreats, veteran and emergency responder groups, as well as peer mentoring.