My name is Marie Milord. I am a veteran of the Iraq War, deployed from 2004 to 2005. My MOS was 91-X—Mental Health Specialist.
My duties in Iraq included providing mental health counseling to military personnel in-country. We saw a lot of people who were suffering from early signs of PTSD, such as anxiety, hypervigilance, and problems sleeping, to name a few. After returning from deployment, I worked for the Vet Center helping Veterans deal and cope with their military experience. As a Veteran, I understand how it feels to come home and to feel alone and isolated… feeling like no one can understand your struggles.
In 2016 I had the opportunity to attend a women’s retreat at The Warrior Connection. I have to admit, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going through this journey. I put off going through it for a couple of years (partly because life was a little stressful).
Going through the journey was truly eye opening!
I was able to connect with other female Veterans who were struggling as a result of their military experience. Through the process, I could see the change that others experience, as well as my own transformation. I was able to talk about things that I usually don’t talk about to others. I was able to gain support and encouragement from my fellow comrades. I felt that I wasn’t alone. I was able to let go of sadness and anger that I felt after returning from deployment.
Most importantly I realize the importance of taking care of me… something that I neglected to do. I think it was the first day or second day during the retreat when we had to find a rock and write something (I believe we had to write a goal for our journey). I had written on my rock “Loving Kindness.” That rock is now on my office window sill. Every day I am able to look at it and remind myself to be loving and kind to me.
I would also have to say that the changes that I saw in my fellow comrades also made me realize how important and powerful the work that is happening at TWC. Like me, people were able to open up and talk about things that they’ve never told anyone; things that they felt ashamed about. We all were able to leave at the end of the retreat feeling lighter, more hopeful, and connected.
So it is because of this personal experience that I want to go through the facilitator training. I want to continue helping veterans process their military experience. I think TWC provides another option for veterans to be able to do so.
I like TWC’s statement of “Improving the overall well-being of veterans and their families.” The focus is not on the disease model but on a wellness model. Going through the program I was able to find what was important for my well-being. And I was able to find my own strength, courage, and inner resources.
So many Veterans, because of their experiences, forget about these important qualities. I want to continue to help them in this journey.