For many veterans, time served is filled with moments of camaraderie, duty, and positive memories filled with pride. Unfortunately for me, it was a battle that led to more than a decade of trauma, shame, and guilt. But I’m here to tell you that no matter how hard the fight may be, it’s possible to find healing and peace.

I served in the Army for seven years as a Logistics Officer. During that time, I experienced unspeakable trauma due to the actions of a fellow soldier. The last three of my years of service were haunted by serving as a witness in a court martial.

It took a toll on my mental health, and I struggled to make sense of life afterward. The depression and post-traumatic stress were crippling, and I felt like I was in a dark hole I could never escape. I was later medically retired, and after leaving the service, finding a place in the world where I belonged was hard.

Things got worse when I returned home and tried to find a job. The symptoms from the trauma made it hard for me to even apply for jobs, let alone hold one down. Anxiety took hold, and I couldn’t even leave the house without my husband by my side. As the years went by, my relationship with my family became strained. My daughters wanted nothing to do with me.

I had spent years trying to get help from wherever I could find it--I tried it all. I went to multiple therapists and intensive inpatient programs, but nothing seemed to help. I started experimenting with holistic forms of healing, such as wilderness retreats and even visiting various shamans. While they were helpful, I still felt like I was stuck in my own head.

It wasn’t until a friend of mine told me about a veteran’s retreat program down in Florida that was really helping people heal. Operation Warrior Resolution was the answer I had been looking for.

This organization dedicates itself to offering veterans free therapy services using innovative tactics, including a specialized brain-based healing for trauma, yoga, meditation, chiropractic, pain management, nutrition and equine therapy. I was fortunate to be accepted into their Tactical Healing program, which is a 3-month program, starting with a 5-day retreat. I was surrounded by veterans who were just as broken, scared, and hurt as me, all starting this journey together.

At this point in my life, I had so many problems trusting people, and after trying so many other alternative therapies, I was also skeptical of the program. But as soon as I entered the retreat house, I could feel the energy of healing and hope.

The combination of specialized brain-based healing, peer support, and alternative therapies profoundly affected my life. I felt a sense of peace and purpose for the first time in years. The program gave me the tools to cope with my trauma and take back my life. By the time I went through the first brain-based healing session, I felt like the baggage of 12 years of trauma had fallen off my shoulders. I was right where I was supposed to be when I was supposed to be there.

Through their compassionate guidance and instruction, I was able to start rebuilding my relationship with my body and mind. With the help of yoga, mindfulness practices, brain-based healing, and community support, I began to find peace within myself again. On my way down to Florida, I thought I would have to get a divorce to spare my family from my pain. On the way back, I had a plan for how to mend my relationships.

For me, it has been a spiritual journey. I grew up with a firm belief in God and believed that God was the only one who could help me heal. But Operation Warrior Resolution taught me that healing comes in many forms, and through the power of community and connection, it’s possible to find healing and peace. If anything is the good word, this is the good word. Passing on love, light, and life to the next person hurting and dealing with trauma.

Since completing the retreat, I’ve taken an active role in utilizing my master’s degree. As a family outreach specialist and wellness coach, I went on to train in the specialized brain-based healing that Operation Warrior Resolution provides, called the Cortina Method. I am now on their team providing the same treatment that saved my life to fellow veterans. I can now pay it forward to support other veterans in their healing process. Operation Warrior Resolution rewrote my story and gave me the tools to rewrite the story of veterans who need healing. It’s a privilege for me now to serve as an advocate for those who have served in so many ways before me. Let me assure you: there is life after trauma. There is joy after suffering. There is hope after heartache. And with the right resources and support, there is healing.