Nothing was the same for Jason after he returned home to America after a year spent in Samara, Iraq, in 2002-2003, as a military policeman. In Iraq, though he was frequently shot at by RPGs and mortars, he developed a sense of family among the others he was serving with.
“We lived in less than desirable conditions,” Jason remembers.“But we were all together with our brothers and sisters and for us I don’t think we could have asked for more.”
Back home, Jason felt suddenly alone, isolated, and struggling with PTSD.
Hopeless No More
Jason took fire daily during a year in Iraq. But nothing could prepare him for the pain of coming home.
Like no home he remembered
Gone were the daily adrenaline rushes of patrolling the streets of Samara, of wondering if his security convoy would come under fire.
“I began to struggle when I returned from Iraq and things weren’t the same,” Jason says. “I started drinking a lot. I made poor decisions. I ended up in a really bad accident on my motorcycle. From there, everything went down hill.” The accident lead to a series of knee surgeries that kept him home while his unit was redeployed to Iraq. In addition to the physical pain, Jason says he felt worthless because he could not be there with his unit.
Finding his place
Eventually, Jason was medically discharged from the Army. He returned home to Oregon, where his father had recently been diagnosed with cancer. “I came home to care for my dad,” Jason says. “But after he died, I could feel my life going in the same bad direction. I just wanted to numb away the pain.”
That’s when Mission Outdoors came calling.
“Matt (see Matt’s story on the previous page) called and asked me to come up and fish in the Washington Tuna Classic,” Jason remembers. “It was just an amazing experience to be back with a group of veterans doing something that made us all smile.”
Jason has been on three trips with Mission Outdoors to date, and can’t imagine where his life would be without the organization: “They do a really great job of bringing vets together and getting them outdoors and giving them a sense of accomplishment again. Thank you so much for what you’ve done for me.”