Joseph’s Story

Struggling with hardships such as abuse, stigma and discrimination, homelessness, or traumatic memories can be difficult. But life can get better. Connecting with the right people, finding inner strength and tapping into local programs can make all the difference. Visit to view personal story movies created by San Diegans to inspire, offer hope and challenge stereotypes.

“9/11 changed my life forever. The days of simply playing football and being carefree no longer seemed to be an option. I walked away from being a kid and joined the Army.

Before deploying I was teaching bible study and thought I was secure in my values, who I was. But when I got home, to my wife and friends, I felt alone. I no longer believed in God. My innocence had been destroyed. Physically I was home. Mentally though, I never left Iraq.

I became a cop and denied these feelings and moved on, I thought. Adapt and overcome. But my behavior expressed how I felt on the inside. I couldn’t sleep, had nightmares and I couldn’t even hold my son when he cried. At work, I was trying to get myself killed by taking risks. I was afraid I would lose my job if I asked for help. But I ended up getting arrested and I had to accept that I needed to get help. My wife and our department chaplain stepped up and stayed by my side, as did other veterans. I started on a different journey, a different battle.

I left combat in 2005, but still struggle today. I now work for a nonprofit helping veterans get the resources and help they need and combating the stigma and barriers to their and my care.”Joseph

Veterans Village of San Diego, a nationally-recognized nonprofit organization, specializes in prevention, intervention, treatment, aftercare and employment services for military veterans. Visit to learn more. If you or someone you know is currently or has been previously in the military community and may need help, contact Courage to Call by calling 2-1-1

For information about suicide prevention and local resources, visit: