I have been riding dirt bikes my whole life. When I’m riding trails I truly feel alive, and I am thankful to be alive!
Hello, my name is Keith and I have been in the Navy for 26 years. As a Senior Chief Petty Officer, I’ve spent most of my career supporting the SEAL and Special Warfare teams. After multiple deployments and multiple TBIs, it’s been hard for me to get back to being the same person I once was.
I have lost many friends, both in combat and suicide related to PTSD. I can’t count the number of funerals that I have been to – and part of me doesn’t really want to know.
One close friend confided in me that he was having real problems. Because he was worried he’d lose his security clearance, he asked me not mention it to anyone. I agreed and this is my biggest regret. Not long after our talk, he took his own life. My friend left a wife and two children behind.
I was left with an incredible amount of guilt, shame, regret and remorse. I didn’t know how to cope. I self-medicated to dull the pain. I just hit a point where I couldn’t compartmentalize anymore – the deployments, the concussions, the deaths, the suicides – everything was right below the surface just ready to explode.
Then last fall, a friend of mine asked, “Keith, are you ok? I mean really ok?” Enough was enough and I just completely broke down. To say I was a mess was an understatement. He shared with me the steps that he had taken when he was having the same issues.
He put me in touch with the doctor he had been seeing and I was quickly diagnosed with PTSD. Not long thereafter an MRI revealed twelve TBI related lesions on my brain. Thankfully I was brought into a wounded warrior program, where I will be receiving treatment until I retire. Now my work day consists of going to therapy groups and in May I report for a two-month inpatient PTSD treatment program. Thank God for the people who were put in my path. I’ll never understand the powers which have guided me to where I needed to be: getting help!
My mission now: Help others and bring awareness to the unprecedented sacrifices Gold Star Families have made for this nation. Gold Star Families are those which have lost a loved one in military service. For them, the grief never ends. Their stories are important; they are what makes our nation wonderful, idealistic, inspirational and above all – free.
So, in August 2018 my journey begins. I will be driving from coast to coast to meet some of these incredible families and documenting their stories on behalf of this grateful nation. So, please join me on this journey and let’s learn about these stories together.