Home » Invisible Wounds/Mental Health/Veteran Stories »  Finding Purpose Again: A Veteran’s Story of Service, Healing

 Finding Purpose Again: A Veteran’s Story of Service, Healing

/

At the age of 17, fresh out of high school and seeking opportunities beyond her small hometown, Laura made a pivotal decision to join the U.S. Navy. Little did she know at the time, this choice would shape the next three decades of her life, defining her not just as a sailor but also as a leader and pioneer for women in the military.

“I grew up in the Navy, serving 24 years at various commands and platforms. The Navy was my family. I did have some long deployments where I had to leave my young daughter for 6 to 9 months at a time. Those days were not easy, but that is what I signed up to do. At times, the mission came before family.”

During her extensive, more than two decade career in the military, Laura served in various capacities, starting off as a non-designated Seaman and ultimately becoming a senior enlisted officer where she worked alongside Navy SEALs and Special Warfare Boat Operators. She was one of the first females assigned to a combatant ship in 1996 after Congress allowed women to serve on combative platforms.

Upon retirement, Laura took a civilian job alongside Navy SEALs that allowed her to stay connected to the military world she loves so much. It’s one reason why she believes she did not experience the typical transition challenges and downward spirals that her fellow brothers and sisters in arms often do right after they separate from service.

A decade later, after she left that job and relocated across the country – away from her military family – Laura faced new challenges that affected both her mental and physical health. 

“Leaving my career triggered feelings of loss. I lost my purpose. I lost my community. I was depressed and had anxiety. I often asked myself ‘Who do I take care of now? Who am I now?’

The emotions she tried to compartmentalize ultimately caught up with her. Laura’s debilitating depression and anxiety often prevented her from leaving her home. She became isolated from others and battled insomnia, which led to a sleeping pill addiction. 

A military spouse who had regular “Buddy Check” calls with Laura recognized the signs of struggle in her voice and suggested she reach out to Boot Campaign for help.

“One day, She called me for a routine buddy check, and I wasn’t doing well. She caught on to that and was able to get me to discuss what was going on with my mental health.”

“Boot Campaign treated me like an individual and provided mental health counseling and wellness treatment that helped me become well and feel like myself again. I received a tailored program that truly cared about my well-being. Boot Campaign gave me hope, something which I had lost along the way.”

Today, Laura is passionate about sharing her journey and encourages fellow Veterans to seek support.

“You are not alone in your suffering. We all carry battle scars – some visible, some invisible. You are not weak; you are actually very strong to reach out and get support.”

To learn more about the individualized care and treatment provided to Veterans through Boot Campaign’s Health & Wellness Program, click here, or to make a donation so that more Veterans like Laura can receive top-tier care for their invisible wounds of war, click here.