Through one-on-one intervention, Boot Campaign is addressing the needs of veterans and veteran caregivers who are struggling with what sometimes may feel like overwhelming anxiety, cognitive challenges like difficulty with memory and focus, trouble sleeping, chronic pain, and other potentially debilitating issues. Our overarching goal is to restore the lives of military families, and a new piece of our program, made possible by the generosity of the Infinite Hero Foundation, has potential to do just that. 

I would like to introduce you to one of the warriors who has recently participated: Josh, who served in the U.S. Air Force and continued to lace up his boots as a first responder after he separated from the military. 

Josh graciously recounts a weekend in his life where he utilized the skills learned in this piece of the Boot Campaign Health and Wellness program. As he continues his healing journey alongside his new Boot Campaign family, Josh’s desire is that his story will give hope to other veterans and caregivers who may be struggling. 

It had been a really bad week for all of us, and we were at our limits. My wife especially needed a break and some kind of reprieve from the meat grinder that is being married to someone with PTS and a brain injury. I should note that during this particular weekend, I was suffering from shingles, and my daughter also had chickenpox!

0625 am — Before I even open my eyes, Saturday is greeting me with thoughts you don’t want to have — well ever — let alone before you are fully conscious. I roll out of bed with less than four hours of sleep as usual. I am tired, cranky and in a lot of pain. Here we go again… I leave my sweat-soaked bed and head down the stairs hoping I don’t fall again. It is not even 0630 yet, and I am already spiraling down towards that deep dark hole that will consume, not only the rest of my day, but my wife’s and kids’ days as well. 

0642 am — I am done. Done with this shit. Done with the day. Done with the pain. Done with the guilt. I am completely depleted and losing my grip. All I want to do is give my wife a good Mother’s Day weekend and now I am blowing it. Everything feels like dry sand passing through my fingers. I am spinning down deeper and faster as the moments pass. At this point, even coffee isn’t helping. 

0645 am — Out of left field it hits me. What can I control? “Stop … breathe” is all I hear, and I began to wonder how long I had been holding my breath. Based on my gasp, it had been a decent chunk of time. That gave me enough to grab on to, enough to eventually start pulling. What else can I control? I can focus my breathing…. thoughts…. I can do something with those too. Breath. Thoughts. Control what you can control. As my training from Boot Campaign’s program is kicking in, I keep breathing and I slowly start working my way back out of the hole. It is taking time and effort on my part, but I am starting to gain some traction. 

0730 am — Things are turning around. I am feeling like maybe this day is not doomed after all. Let me give breakfast a try and see how things go. The brakes are applied to my downward spiral and the course is on its way to being reversed. Now things are starting to happen. Instead of waking up to a severely agitated husband and father stomping around the house for apparently no good reason, my family is greeted with a bacon and egg breakfast and a smile (even if it is forced). Don’t get me wrong, my inner turmoil is still going strong, raging even, but I am functional and now able to change the way I engage with my family, to build them up, rather than tear them down. 

0908 am — As the morning goes on I continue to lean on the training from Boot Campaign heavily, and it is working. I’m able to pull myself together little by little, and I’m able to start putting the day together. Slowly the pieces fall into place and we end up having an incredible, nearly perfect, Mothers’ Day weekend that my family will never forget. 

Overall, this whole experience was just what we all needed as a family, and it was what my wife really needed. She got part of her husband back for a day. I cannot imagine how that must feel for her to have days like this where she isn’t watching the love of her life self destruct with no way to help. This is a daily battle for our family, but I am, we are, moving in the right direction. Some days I cannot pull myself out of my spiral, but some days I can and that is the key. With PTS a bad day can turn into a bad week or month in what seems like the blink of an eye. Having these tools gives me a fighting chance to save every day. The training from Boot Campaign is helping to actively save my life, marriage, my relationships with my kids and will impact my family for generations.”

At Boot Campaign, our team is honored to work with veterans like Josh who courageously stepped up to serve in our nation’s Armed Forces and continues to show courage by raising his hand and asking for help to overcome challenges associated with hidden wounds of war. His drive and determination inspires us all as well as those who support our efforts like the Infinite Hero Foundation. 

Courtney Janes, executive director of the Infinite Hero Foundation, shared the below with me after reading Josh’s account of how his life has improved. 

Josh’s bravery that made him a successful Airman is continuing to play a part in his healing. Boot Campaign’s whole person approach and ability to tap into customized treatment plans to serve those recovering from invisible wounds of war is truly moving the needle on what recovery looks like for our heroes and their families. Josh, thank you, for sharing your story with us all.  

The Infinite Hero Foundation helped lay the groundwork for Boot Campaign’s Health and Wellness program as it exists today, donating more than $300,000 since 2016 to provide individualized programs to improve the lives of military families. Because of Infinite Hero Foundation’s commitment to our cause, dozens of veteran lives, like Josh and his family, have been improved. From all of us at Boot Campaign, many thanks to the Infinite Hero Foundation for being early investors in our efforts. 

And to Josh: All of us at Boot Campaign are tremendously grateful for your service and your willingness to share your story. As you well know, the healing road can be long but we promise to be here for you and your beautiful family every step of the way. 

Want to help pay it forward for those who have served and sacrificed for us all? Donate today.