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USMC Veteran Shares Mental, Physical Journey through Health & Wellness Program


Steve Lucas retired in 2018 as a Lieutenant Colonel after serving 30 years in the U.S. Marine Corps’ Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) field. During his three decades of service, Steve deployed eleven times, including seven combat tours.

He found immense purpose in his role as a leader and mentor within the Corps, but the transition to civilian life was not easy. 

“When I retired, I went to school to become a gunsmith and machinist. I was feeling pretty good about where I was but when it came time to apply for a job, it was very difficult for me to find a purpose or even find something that I really enjoyed. I felt lost.”

Over the course of his military career, Steve built many connections, including a close friendship with Johnny “Joey” Jones who suffered a life-changing injury in 2010 resulting in the loss of both of his legs above the knee. 

Steve and Joey became close friends, and during Joey’s recovery, Steve and his family were by their side. When Joey became involved with Boot Campaign, Steve was right there with him and continued to meet more and more Veterans impacted by Boot Campaign’s programs.

“In seeing other Veterans recovering from some of the issues I was struggling with personally, I realized I had been isolating myself and became bitter. I wasn’t able to find a job. I knew that I needed help, and because of the friendship and trust that I already had with Boot Campaign, I asked for help.” 

As with all candidates of the comprehensive Health & Wellness Program, once Steve applied and was entered into the program in 2021, our team of experts created a pipeline of care specific to his needs after an assessment of both his brain and his body. 

“After an initial meeting with Boot Campaign’s psychologist, it was identified that I have sleep issues, chronic pain and PTSD. They set up a seamless care plan for me to investigate what is going on in my body and found other underlying issues as well. 

“Through counseling and mentorship I also learned more about how my mind and heart are connected, and that your mind and your heart have to communicate or your mind will take over. I had to relearn that the way I handled things served me well in the military was not serving me well post-service. I needed to learn how to become a civilian and they’ve helped me do that very well.”

Over his last two years in the program, Steve has lost 70 pounds and is in a completely different headspace. 

Being hyper aware and ready to go to conflict in a moment’s notice paid a toll on me both mentally and physically. I also had trouble controlling my emotions, anger, frustration and anxiety, and often targeted the people I loved the most. However, because of the individualized treatment that I received from Boot Campaign, I was able to get the functional medicine and mental health support I needed to carry forward.

“I now have the tools and training to process situations differently. I don’t react and I don’t get upset. Physically I’m in a better place. Through this program, I’ve been treated with dignity, respect and true concern. I feel like I received a hug from the Boot Campaign staff, which is what I needed instead of just ‘shut up, suck it up and move on.’ 

“I needed help, and even though I didn’t realize what I needed at the time, they did, and for that I can’t put my gratitude and thankfulness into words. Boot Campaign has given me tools for a better life. I look forward to my best life instead of letting the darkness consume me.”