Warrior Way Angel
I swear I see an angel
A paradise in blue, every color of service
I look through the rays
I see a warrior soldier
His courage is strong
His bravery determined
His faith carries him through
I swear I’m with an angel
A paradise in blue, every branch I see
The soldier kneels, lowers his head in prayer
The soldier says I see you angel and feels his wings
They enter into the bright white lights
The soldier says I feel at peace
The angel says
It is now that I carry you home
By Lois Withers, CPRS, Warrior Way Wellness Center
There is an empty seat in a Virginia church this morning; our comrade, a gentle man, a soldier well-loved and respected by his troops while in service, and his friends military and civilian, outside post-discharge. It was so devastating to find out he was suddenly ‘gone’ December 29, 2019.
I had just talked to 'J' on the phone two months ago, connecting with him to share our new opportunity to finally open a Warrior Wellness Center (open Jan 3, 2020) excited about the ‘Healing Warriors’ mission, for service members, veterans, and families. He was one of the people, who for the last three years, supported hopes and dreams to open this healing sanctuary, and to be a volunteer for us with plans to visit on the following Saturday, January 4. just two weeks ago.
'J' called me, to talk about the Warrior Way Wellness Center, so uniquely different than any other, based on our faith-based, peer holistic health services, body, soul and spirit, and programs that highlight, Courage to Change (the things you can – ‘thinking’ and ‘feeling’). Our Battle Buddy offered to volunteer at the Center to help others who struggled as he had, with war trauma, transitions, and alcoholism.
As a career Army veteran, deployed multiple times, 'J' suffered painful physical injuries, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI). Numerous surgeries, medications, and prolonged exposure therapy (PET) were provided, for his care, but retired medically discharged three years ago. One of his care providers referred him to me, during his transition out of service, because as Military Resiliency Trainer (MRT) he was uniquely qualified to apply his knowledge, skills, and experience developed an interest in becoming a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist.
His command gave him permission to attend our classes in Providence Forge, providing ‘education paid leave days’ in order to explore all the options, while we provided the training for free (based on volunteer hour for hour services later). He completed 112 hours of SAMHSA and State of Virginia training to become a Peer Recovery Specialist (PRS) but not final workforce certification (CPRS).
Instead, upon his military retirement in 2018, accepted an opportunity to work full time as a technician for defense contractor, but also became a volunteer for the local correctional center. He led an Alcohol Anonymous support group, one night a week. He was well aware of the challenges to be pro-active in body, soul, and spirit health, and wanted to assist both the civilian and the military community.
When he called me on his way home from work on October 28, was the last time spoke to him, as he wanted to connect about volunteering for us, at the Center, after the family travel and the holidays. Telling me he was ‘loving life’, best job ever, enjoying his family and being ‘stateside’, and looking forward to seeing us. We connected again by email often since he was following our social media closely, excited about our mission.
His memorial was held Friday, January 17 and I wasn’t able to attend. Since December 29 though, Michael and I’ve been trying to think of the best way to honor his military service, sacrifice, generosity of spirit and friendship, in a way that would bring hope and healing to others, as our Battle Buddy would want us to do.
Praying about it again this morning, this is how we want to pay tribute:
First, I’m providing this link about Traumatic Brain Injury and its many risks related to alcohol consumption that we have included in our peer training curriculum resources since last year: https://www.mirecc.va.gov/visn19/docs/MANUAL_Suicide_prevention_strategies_in_TBI.pdf
Knowledge is a powerful fuel that drives the Will for the Courage to Change.
Second, starting tomorrow, Beacon Institute: Veteran Pathways Home is committed to
provide a free Courage to Change, Action Plan for Prevention and Recovery, our 16 hour wellness & resiliency workshop, for men, conducted by Will Richardson, CPRS, at the Warrior Way Wellness Center.
Third, the honorarium includes ongoing free ‘Recovery Group’ support through Pentecost Sunday, May 31, 2020.
Visit www.veteranpathwayshome.org to register. No matter what the situation, or program, or our need for income revenue, or donors, as long as we are here: We will never turn anyone away based on an inability to pay for services; we will provide assistance for you.