My Story, My Connection: Self-Acceptance
September 21, 2018 | 2-minute read
Welcome to the first installment of My Story, My Connection — Make the Connection’s new video series featuring candid conversations with Veterans of all backgrounds about mental health treatment and recovery.
We recently sat down with TJ, a U.S. Army Veteran who served in 1974–1981 as a field artillery surveyor. He grew up in the housing projects of Chicago — “a tough place,” as he describes it — and alcohol was always around. “When I was young, drinking was what everybody did.”
Those habits carried over to his military service. “Being a soldier — that’s really stressful,” he says. “You have missions you have to accomplish. And at the end of the day, you drink.”
When he left the service, TJ felt lost. “Life didn’t connect for me,” he says. And even though he was drinking every night, he had no idea he was an alcoholic. “I made excuses to drink.”
After going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and group therapy, TJ started to understand the effects that his drinking had not only on himself, but also on everyone else in his life. “They started to help me in spite of myself,” he says.
I like where I’m heading because I feel purposeful.TJ, U.S. Army Veteran
Now TJ supports fellow Veterans. “I’m starting to like the reputation that I have among people,” he says. “People call me and ask for advice. I like where I’m heading because I feel purposeful.”