I was born in Vermont in August of 1979 and I have one sister who was born in April of 1981. My mother was young, pregnant with me at 16, had me at 17, pregnant at 17, had my sister at 18 and divorced just as fast as she got married. She was left alone to raise two newborns after going through a violent and abusive rough several years. The foundation of growing up in our house was don’t get caught, and if you do deny it until you believe it. Nobody cares about you except you so don’t trust anyone and never show any signs of weakness. Anything within these standards seemed to be ok. My mother worked two to three jobs as far back as I can remember which meant she was often not home. As a result, I learned how to care for myself and without a male role model ever in my life, many things I learned the hard way. I quickly joined up with the wrong crowds and followed what was “cool” and “rebellious” rather than what was right. There was no God in our childhood, meaning that my mom wasn’t a believer. In fact, she would often blame God, and others for the situations and hardships we faced regularly. Often times blaming us and reminding us often that if she didn’t have us she could have finished school and got a real job. By the time I was in 5th grade I was known in the area someone who “ran with the wrong crowd” which was into drugs and drinking. I was into both. The only thing that saved me from really going over the edge was sports. I was involved in hockey, baseball, and soccer and played all three year round. I was good, really good, and I was honor roll so I always had “good credit” to get me out of trouble when trouble found me.
As I entered into the end of my 8th-grade year, I found myself in more legal trouble than my “good credit” could keep up with. I had been arrested several times and broke probation each time. Before the Judge, I stood with him issuing me a juvenile detention center sentence until I was 18 at which time the state would take another look at my case. Before the judge could finalize, a gentleman from the back stood up and approached the Judge. He spoke on my behalf and proposed a plan that instead of juvenile detention, I would attend 3 months of drug and alcohol rehabilitation and upon successful completion, and one year of probation, my records would disappear and I would have a clean slate. The Judge agreed and I became a lifelong friend of Robert Bryant, owner of Second Growth. A non-profit for troubled teens. I attended rehab, I completed my probation, and I took off running with my second chance.
After high school, I attended private school in Southern VT, Vermont Academy, with the funding help of Robert Bryant. There I was Dean’s list both years and played baseball, hockey and ran cross country. I applied to four colleges and got accepted into all four. In the fall of 2000 I accepted entrance into Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston Massachusetts where I would play both baseball and hockey. Over the summer of 2000 I debated whether or not this was a good decision. I had no money, and my mother wasn’t able to support financially any of this. After talking with a few friends who were finishing their freshman summer program at The Naval Academy, I decided to enlist in the Marines and in August of 2000 I left for Parris Island, SC.
My Marine Corps career spanned a total of 16 years, all really pushed off of a “dare” to join the Marines. I served 13 years on active duty and in 2013 I reenlisted into the Marine Corps Reserves in order to advance my professional career in the civilian workplace. The overall experience of the Marines was great, and I enjoyed every single aspect of being an Infantry Marine deploying and fighting our nation’s battles. But, I found myself in a tough spot during my time served. Married and divorced twice in my first 10 years. Four deployments and four duty stations in my first 10 years. I was unhappy, depressed, angry and in general confused. I had a hard time keeping a relationship. I was selfish. I lived very independently although I was partnered with someone else. I always had to be right, and everything had to be my way. I lacked sympathy, never displayed any empathy, and no matter what I had, it wasn’t enough. I was told it was a mixture of PTS’D’ and combat stress with failure to adapt. That confused me even more because “Marines like me”, hard-charging, highly combat decorated Marines don’t get labeled with this stuff. We breathe fire and attack the hill. We are not weak. On top of all this, there was still no God in my life. The last deployment I came off was to Afghanistan, Helmand Provance, and was everything a combat deployment could have wrapped into seven months. This particular deployment took more of a downward toll on me than the others. When I came home I found myself fighting off demons so-to-speak more than I found myself enjoying my day. So to help cope with what I was going through I started to write a book about my experience and to preserve the Marines we lost into “stone” so that their story could be kept and told forever. Four years later this book was completed and published becoming a best seller.
In April of 2011, just before Easter Sunday, a friend of a friend whom I had just met saw me and said “wow, you look like you could use some prayer. May I pray for you”? Not knowing exactly what to say, I said sure, but I don’t need your prayer. Later in that week, she had contacted me and invited me to attend her church and an Easter Sunday BBQ. I declined both. She asked, again and again, I declined both. The next day she called again and asked. I finally said yes I will come, just to get her to leave me alone. So I attended my first Christian church ever on Easter Sunday in 2011, and that day I gave my life to God, and for the first time went all in. I later that year met Jessica, my wife, and mother of two kids now. We got married in August of 2013. Life was good, it was great. But on the outside. Along the time we had our first child I started to revert back to my selfish ways. I wanted to be independent again. No matter what I had, it still wasn’t enough. I started to distance myself from my wife and soon our house wasn’t full of love and caring ways. It was quiet, and I took attention away from her and put it into my son and other activities. It was depressing and I was too prideful to admit it, and to change it. On the outside, life was great. Our Church community loved us, I was an active member of the Church and even an instructor teaching classes on Ministry and God’s purpose of serving. But it was all a mask. Each day I would feed the mask, but nothing ever got through to me. It wasn’t until December 2016 when my wife forwarded me a copy of a testimony by a Recon Marine named Chad Robichaux. I put it off for a few weeks, then one day driving home I listened to it. I was hooked. I felt for the first time in years that it was ok to feel the way I was feeling and that I wasn’t alone. That if this man, who was very much like myself, and I was very much like him, could do what he did, having been through what he went through, I knew I could too.
Mid-December of 2016 I signed up and attended Mighty Oaks Warrior Program, The Mens’ Fight Club. I was scared but eager to see what Mighty Oaks was about. That week was beyond words and deserves an entire story alone. Before Mighty Oaks, I was alone, angry, depressed, confused and prideful. I pushed everyone away who wanted to help but allowed those who truly didn’t care in. I kept my mask on daily. After Mighty Oaks, when I came home, my wife couldn’t believe it. Who was this man of God standing in front of her? All of the bitterness, resentment, anger, and rage was gone. God had spoken to me and his spirit woke me up. I was dead my entire life and it took MOWP, through God to wake me up.
Since then, I have been back and completed my Phase 1 leadership training and have been invited back for Phase 2. Currently, I am working to attend my second Phase of leadership training to become an instructor within their program.