My name is SSG Samuel Askins. I am from Willis, Texas and have been serving in the United States Army since March of 1997. I am a 16 year veteran and recipient of the Combat Infantryman’s Badge for combat in 2004-2005 in Baghdad Iraq.
While serving with MNSTC-I J3 Convoy Security Team I was hit with IED’s, VBIED’s and fought in numerous skirmishes and ambushes involving small arms. Although not physically injured in Iraq I came home a changed man. They say war changes a man and I believe that it not only changes your perspective on the world it also hardens your heart.
Upon returning home from war something didn’t feel the same. I was noticing every time I went into public I was still looking for the bombs, scanning the crowds for potential threats and having major anxiety attacks. I could not feel emotions like I had before. I was married to a fellow Staff Sergeant and she was beginning to notice that I was drinking more at night before bed. I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was because I was scared to go to sleep. I stopped sleeping unless the sun was up and I was on post. We decided that since my heart wasn’t “In It” any longer that I would become a fulltime drilling Reservist and I could get a normal 9-5 job. The problem with that idea was by this time I had a full blown severe case of PTSD.
I had started taking medication from the VA & I became depressed and could not find suitable employment. I started getting angry. I drank more often and began shutting myself in the house for weeks at a time (isolation). My poor wife had to toe the line in all aspects of life. I began to think of myself as a failure and a bad husband and father. I became even more depressed. We split numerous times during this debacle. Then she had to deploy to Iraq once again. When she was free of me she was able to breathe and she sent me a Dear John letter. I was at the end of my rope and no matter how hard I tried I was just pushing it up. I spiraled out of control. I was taking care of our two year old daughter and she had to see me sobbing uncontrollably and shutting myself in the house. She would waddle up to me and pat me on the arm ask if “Daddy sick?” then kiss me and crawl up in my lap. I know now that God sent her to save me, she was all I had. I wanted to die and planned on doing so soon. I called my mother and had her pick up my daughter and my dog. I was going to drink myself to death. I almost succeeded. I woke up one night in jail. I had no recollection of the night before but from the stories the jailers told I had a meltdown. My ex-wife had started the paperwork to take my daughter away from me. I had become the crazy man in the cammo jacket. After 30 days in the County Jail the judge released me on a PR bond. I came home to Houston and felt like a complete disgrace. PTSD had robbed me of everything, my sanity, my family and even my freedom. Every relationship that I held dear, my wife, my daughter, family, friends and my Army career was in ruin. I didn’t know where to turn. I called a friend in the local Reserve unit in Conroe. He put me in touch with Lt. Col Jeff Presnal and the PTSD Foundation of America. They came out to Willis to get me for weekly meetings and introduced me to the men and women in the groups. That was a year ago.
Today I have HOPE. I have been sober since 03 Aug 2011. I have completed inpatient treatment for addiction. God restored in me in mind and he made my hard heart flesh. I can feel emotions now. I no longer take copious amounts of psychiatric medication. By the Grace of God my ex-wife has allowed my daughter to return into my life. My family and friends have started to trust me again. I have a personal relationship with Christ. I am now the one reaching out to help other veterans. This was made possible because Pastor David Maulsby, Jeff and Sandra Presnal and Victor Garcia never gave up on me. PTSD Foundation saved my life and now it’s time that I give back and help other veterans like me find restoration and healing through Jesus Christ. No child deserves to lose either of their parents just because they were honorable enough to make sacrifices in the name of our great country and freedom. God Bless the PTSD Foundation of America and God Bless everyone who supports us.
- Samuel Askins, US Army, Combat Veteran