In August 2016, I was medically discharged from the Army National Guard, though I was still serving in 2016, my true military career ended in 2015. With my wife moving to Virginia because of her military career I was forced to leave the unit I deployed with, the 484th Military Police Company, Third Platoon Honey Badgers from Billings, Montana. I spent three and a half years with that platoon, they took me in, trained me to be a soldier not a robot, taught me my skills with the machine guns I used, and the ones I deployed with to Afghanistan. There is no greater love apart from family I have felt than with the Honey Badgers. While deployed and post deployment I developed advanced tendonitis in both Achilles tendons. Due to this I was unable to do a complete transfer from Montana to Virginia, I was forced to do SUTA drills or make up drills so I could maintain my status. Although I worked with fellow Military Police in Virginia I was never part of their unit. I was moved from team to team, never really there to do anything but stand around. Getting my medical discharge was the most bitter sweet moment of my life. I was no longer a burden on the Virginia Guard members, but at the same time I was no longer in the Army; I had planned on staying in for life and even going after a commission when I finished my degree.
Since I was national guard I already had a job, I didn’t need to find myself a job or career, but the same injuries that had me medically discharged me altered my life choices for my career. I had plans to become a police officer, get a few years under my belt as a patrol officer then try and work my way into the FBI or US Marshall Service. I was working at a jail as a control operator and when my Tendonitis was officially diagnosed as chronic my career goals were flushed away. But at the end of August my son was born. I had felt something that I hadn’t felt for any other than my family, an undying love for someone I didn’t know yet. I knew I needed to find a job to make him proud of me.
Two days before I was discharged I was diagnosed with moderate PTSD, I was suffering depression due to my discharge and my job. I was not a fan of where I had been working. The reason I tell you this is because in the November of 2016 I was offered a chance to become a private military contractor in Afghanistan. I was supposed to leave the weekend after Thanksgiving. I quit my job, spent two weeks with my family and two days before I was supposed to hit tarmac I was disqualified from going. This left me high and dry. We were lucky that not even twenty-four hours later my disability activated and we were able to survive and pay all of our bills without an issue. I started looking into service dogs after December. While being a stay at home dad I had refused to leave the home unless my wife was with me, I was unable to go anywhere near crowds or areas that got crowded easily. After some searching I found a local organization, I started talking to them but at the time there was no dogs ready at that moment.
Look sussed, be sussed. Go out and break things. Look smart, be sharp, walk with swagger. Break paper targets or break likeminded thinking. Do something that puts you in a different place by creating your own method. Maybe you break with old friends or bad habits that tie you down. Everything has a breaking point. Go out, kick ass, be badass, figure things out and be hopeful.
A few months later I was contacted by two people. The first one was the president of the service dog organization, due to theft and lack of fund they had to shut down. That night I received my Service Dog, John. He was a six-month-old Great Pyrenees, Golden Retriever mix. He was trained and in just the first few weeks my family noticed that I was more active. Next, I was contacted by the company I currently work for. They had found me on Monster, and offered me a job. I took it in a heartbeat as it lined up well with what I decided to get my degree on.
One of our SWAT police officer writers chilling on Sunday. Taking care of the family, providing for them and making lasting memories – an important component of warrior philosophy.
While adapting to my post military life I was not struggling with many of the issues that my active duty brothers and sisters deal with. I had a job, a place to live and a career. I was struggling to adapt to my new body, the injuries, the anxiety and PTSD. It has been over a year now and I have adapted well, but that is all thanks to my supportive wife, my wonderful son and my dog John. While I miss the military, I do enjoy spending my weekends with my family and friends.
Here is my suggestion to those who are struggling with their post military life:
- One, take each day as they come, life no matter what is going to throw curve balls at you and learning to roll with them and becoming resilient to the challenges that civilian life throws at you is key.
- Next surround yourself with people who will build you up, military friends, civilian friends and family. These people will be key in your life and will help with your transition. Jobs will be tough, and just as the military like to make things suck sometimes so will civilian jobs and you need to focus on the positive people in your life.
- Three, get a hobby, and I mean a hobby that will take your mind away. Become a reader, write stories, work on cars, guns or whatever catches your fancy. Find something that makes you happy when you’re doing it and it takes you away from your stress for the time you are doing it.
- Four, keep a positive attitude, when life is looking down a positive attitude can and will make the difference in your life. We were trained in the military to adapt and overcome, just because we shed our uniforms and remove the rank does not mean we aren’t members any more, it just means we have more chances to change ourselves for the better.
*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.
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Donovan Mullen is an Army Veteran and served with the military as Military Police. He’s been shooting for 15 years. He’s used military surplus firearms, modern military firearms, bolt actions, revolvers and semi-automatic handguns and rifles. With his experience, he feels that he is moderately good with firearms and their operation. He built both lower receivers he currently owns. With that knowledge and advice from a good friend he started reviewing firearms and parts.