July 4th…. and fireworks.

We’re not too far away from America’s celebrations of independence from my homeland.  A time when I still get asked if I am angry about it all being an Englishman haha… I find it difficult to get angry about something that happened 243 years ago and had nothing to do with me.  But there’s that.

Its a paid day off work, a time for celebrations and cook out and ice cold beer!! What’s not to love about July 4th!?  I cant wait to stuff a few burgers and hotdogs in my face, washed down with some delicious beer!!!   However,  for some of us, the big Debbie Downer about his time of year also happens to be fireworks.  A reminder of times we work hard to forget.  A time that brings combat flashbacks, memories and nightmares  to the forefront of one’s mind.  In the past, I have done what was needed to avoid the evening tradition of fireworks.  Gone camping or locking myself away indoors and drinking myself into a deep sleep were my typical favorites.  The latter, clearly not being healthy or productive.  Yet, to avoid the memories and nightmares I was prepared to do pretty much to avoid the effects of fireworks.


However, I have married a wonderful woman who happens to LOVE fireworks.  I have to admit that I really enjoy seeing her face when we have seen them together.  Her eyes light up like a Christmas tree, she has an innocence about her when she falls under the spell of them.  She has been with me through my PTSD journey.  Through some horribly disappointing down times and with me during the successes.  There must be a middle ground we can find right? I refuse to let the enemy beat me now I am home.  They already took a lot from me, I refuse to let them take even more, especially the enjoyment of my wife.

This is the first year I have bought and will be displaying a sign asking people to be considerate of their neighbor being a combat veteran.  I am not for a moment asking my neighbors to avoid enjoying the celebrations.  Perhaps just take some time to consider the possible unnecessary and/or excessive usage of them.  In the past we have experienced locals letting them off days before the 4th, then days after the 4th.  Perhaps get them all done on the 4th!? I don’t know, I just don’t want to be tormented for days on end.  I know its not being done out of spite, I just hope the sign gives them an opportunity to learn and be considerate.


I’m also in search of some good headphones to wear on the 4th since we will be going to a wonderful even in my wife’s hometown including a parade and a bonfire.  I desperately want to stay for the fireworks and enjoy watching my wife’s pretty face smile as she enjoys them.  She has already offered for us to leave before they start but I don’t want that, its appreciated but I want to support her love for them as she has supported my battle with PTSD.  Yet, I know that I must be aware in knowing my limitations.

The purpose of my blog today?  Hhhhmmm… I think to simply get some things off my chest that have started to bother me as we approach July.  Perhaps to bring some awareness to non veterans who may not have known about this issue with combat veterans during this time of celebrations.  I certainly don’t want to sound like a party pooper or the July Grinch.  Simply looking out for my brothers and asking people to be considerate of those veterans who will undoubtedly be struggling this July 4th.



I will always be my brothers’ keeper

Cheers guys, God bless you all



Suicide Prevention week Sept 9-15!

Call someone, text someone….. anything!!! Cry, scream, sob, hold, be held…. anything, just anything except making that irreversible decision to end it all.  Please!!

This blog is not only ‘aimed’ at veterans, even though my brothers are always close to my heart.  It is for anyone who is in such a dark place they are considering the ultimate self inflicted wound.  As a combat veteran I have watched helplessly as I experience the news time after time that a brother in arms has taken his own life.  Six of those times, it has been a close battle buddy I served and fought along side.  The demons of War, following them home, as they did with most of us.  Defeating my brothers thousands of miles from the battle field where they found us.

I have been there.  I have found myself on several occasions in a particular position/situation where I was about to make the ultimate decision.  Completely exhausted and defeated to the point of wanted to go and personally meet Jesus on MY time and ask him “why me”?   Or, not necessarily getting ready to ‘do it’ but caring so little about yourself that you put yourself in extremely dangerous situations that could easily end up in the loss of your life.  I have been there too.  Either one is a desperate situation.

At my darkest time, after several self destructive moments, I decided to flee everything and head home to England to be around my family.  I spent weeks with them, walking and thinking and praying.  Asking over and over again, why me? why make me go through all that and feel this way God?  Help me Lord?  Where are you?  Why have you left me?

God answered me during a walk through the fields outside my village.  He told me he hadn’t left me and that he loved me.  Yet, I had to trust him and I had to believe that what he had planned for me was perfect, FOR ME.  I wouldn’t think so, I wouldn’t want to follow his plan but I had a chance, perhaps my last chance to follow and do things HIS way, not mine.  I was financially broke, mentally broken and physically exhausted.  Living back at my parents home in the same bedroom I had grown up in.  In a village with a population of no more than 1000 people, little job options…… few options of anything to be honest.

So…… how did he heal me?  I got deployed again for 12 months! Yep, not joking!  After our intervention I went home and had received an email from a contracting company offering me a lucrative, yet dangerous contract back to Afghanistan.  Are you f*cking kidding me Lord?? This is my salvation? This is the golden ticket for me??

Within 2 weeks, I was in Texas taking a medical examination and a physical fitness test.  Completed my firearms and first aid training and being interviewed.  At the end of the process I was selected and formally offered the contract to sign and accept.  Six figure, tax free salary with a completion bonus tacked on to the end if I stayed the entire 12 month deployment.

I trusted and I went.

I trusted and I was saved.

12 months later and after 6 months in Afghanistan and 6 in Serbia I was out of debt and even had some money in the bank.  I was physically in amazing condition and I had spent plenty of time with God, in a wonderful church family on base.   My mental state was still rocky but I finally had hope, I had experienced Gog.  Including his full and unwavering level of grace and forgiveness.

Upon my return, God had placed my (now) beautiful wife back into my life and connected me with a wonderful support system of professionals who helped me stay on the right path and, away from the dark ledge I had spent so many years hanging off.

My way had not worked, clearly.  I trusted God with my life and he saved it; literally.

So give it a go!!! Just ask him and he WILL save you…. he will replenish your soul and your life.  Although he is never done working with us and for us,  in the aftermath, he will place people in your life that will continue his work.

I love me again, which means I can feel his love for me.  I can feel the unconditional and everlasting love my wife has for me.  I love life again.

After the things I have done, the hurt I have caused, the pain I have put people through.  The hatred that lived in my heart, the darkness I invited into my life and the lies that flowed from my mouth.  If God loves me so much that he would still move my life in a way that could save a wretched soul like mine, he WILL save you too!!!

I’m not perfect, life has not been perfect since I asked Jesus into my life.  Having said that, he has continued to work and do things for me that are good for ME, even if I didn’t ask for them, or agree with them.

Please don’t make a decision you cannot reverse.   Pray and look at the options he has placed in your life.  As bad as you think it is, the options are there.  Trust me!

I am not professionally trained in counseling or mental health but if you think I might be able to help, or you just need to be heard.  Feel free to reach out to me.

I will always be my brothers keeper!



http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org  —  1 800 273 8255