My name is Skylar Brown, and I am brand new to the group, so I wanted to take the time to introduce myself and explain a little bit about my background, and how I have been helped by this amazing organization.
I am veteran of the US Navy, where I served for four years as a Petty Officer 2nd Class/Quartermaster, navigating a submarine repair ship in the South Pacific Theater. Like so many of us, I joined right after 9/11 out of a strong desire to serve my country. At 17, maybe I was too young to truly understand what I was getting myself into, but like most veterans, I was also seeking a better life for myself in the service, a life full of things that poor kids like myself could only dream of: money, travel, college, belonging, and the prestige of true accomplishment. As I now know, joining our nation’s military has been both one of the most rewarding, and one of the most costly decisions of my life.
As a sailor, I was trained (as we all are) to put country and mission above self and simply ignore or internalize any struggles in my personal life or health. In regards to mission readiness, this is essential, but when I got out, I found myself having difficulty translating this approach to civilian life. I left the Navy quite a bit worse for wear, with a severe back injury, hearing loss, traumatic experiences, and plenty of emotional challenges with my transition. I was able to shine it on for quite a while, going to college and eventually working in the legal field, but last year, my life seemed to implode.
As soon as we became open to accepting help, everything started to change for us. My husband and I found great therapists at the Gardena Vet Center that eventually referred us to Wounded Heroes. When I walked in to the office for the first time I felt defeated, ashamed and like I had nowhere to turn. My husband and I were so broke that we had been selling our plasma and turning in recyclables to get money. One conversation with Mike and Wendi changed all that. I was taken aback by Mike’s incredible kindness and his approach of immediate, direct, personal assistance. Any veteran who has been bounced around to different organizations can relate to the incredible relief I felt when I finally met someone who said “Yes, I will personally help you right now” It is truly unique in this world.
Thanks to WHOA, we were able to get my husband to work at his new job, get our phones turned back on, and pay our storage unit bill so we would not lose everything we owned, which would have been a staggering blow after everything else we had endured. We are beginning to recover and be excited about living our lives again and I am now working with Mike and Wendi to help make this amazing organization stronger in any way I can