Certified Peer Specialist (CPS)
Individual Skill Development and Enhancement (ISDE)
You are more than what has happened to you.
Growing up I was surrounded by crime, violence, and addiction. I ended up in the juvenile justice system, the adoption system, and eventually a new community where I was different from everyone else. I later joined the Army National Guard and was deployed on two tours to Iraq. Having escaped the physical environment of my youth, I neglected to address the mental and emotional anchors that were preventing me from progressing past my initial learned behaviors. Combat only reinforced these patterns.
You are more than the worst things you have done.
After Iraq, I went through multiple VA Hospital mental health and addiction programs. I eventually ended up in jail and prison. While incarcerated, I came to the most important realization of my life: my impact on others could be positive, or it could be negative; my decisions dictated which outcome resulted, not my intentions. I decided that I wanted to be a person who inspired others to be better, not a person who tore others down. After being released from prison, I earned my degree in creative writing to better communicate the lessons I have learned to others who come from similar backgrounds as myself.
You can redefine your life.
I work every day to be the kind of person who lives what he preaches to others. I find that the best way for me to build trust and camaraderie with others is through physical activity. I love lifting weights, playing sports, doing outdoor activities, and anything else that involves movement. I also like diving into deeper conversations and exploring the perspectives of others. I have found that the lessons I learn in the activities I engage in almost always overlap with the lessons I have learned dealing with mental health challenges, addiction, and unresolved trauma.