“You couple substance abuse with PTSD and I’m wondering, ‘How do I fit in?’” -Ken
Today, Ben and I are talking to Ken, a 35-year active military combat-in-arms, now veteran, discussing his alcoholism and addiction and what his post-military recovery journey has been for Ken. He is now paying it forward, helping others recover from their addiction.
Born in 1964 to an Irish-Catholic family and the youngest of seven, the first memory of drinking alcohol is at age eight. With an abusive family environment, and alcohol readily available, Ken needed an escape.
As a child, his escape was sports until he started drinking hard in 7th grade. He met up with a guitar player in his teens and started a band. After that, he skipped most of high school until he was thrown out of school at 16. He remembers trying everything except for heroin.
“We knew the path we were on and decided that we can’t keep on this path, so we joined the service.” Having enrolled in the military in 1981, he saw much of the similar trauma he grew up with, such as suicides, fighting, and seeing a lot of blood, were familiar sites to Ken.
Ken remembers how alcohol was a part of daily life in the military. “This is normal, this is the way we operate.” He remembers the monthly keg in the breakroom and the keg in addition to alcohol troops brought to the barracks, there was “alcohol in mass quantities.” He also recalls that the military didn’t have the same policy regarding drugs as they would “disappear.”
Once he left the army, it was hard to integrate into society with a different language, no one to give orders, and a different lifestyle. So when he re-entered the civilian world, his life slowed down exponentially.
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