Veteran's Day Spotlight: Ali, U.S. Marine Veteran

Hi Again!

You all may recognize me as the one that wrote about being “Sober AF” in September. Well, the lovely people at Recovree thought of me when wanting to do a spotlight for Veteran’s Day.

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…Oh yeah. I forgot to mention in my previous blog post that I am a six-year Marine Corps Veteran. It’s not something I purposefully left out. I quite literally just forgot to mention it. I know you’re probably thinking to yourself, “How does one forget to mention such an important part of their life?” I sat with that and while trying to find the words to describe how I felt, I realized it really had a lot to do with shame. I found myself wondering if I had brought shame to the title of U.S. Marine because I found myself needing recovery.

It’s a weird and conflicting feeling that I have yet to put into words, so bear with me while I quite literally word vomit in this blog post.

I found myself thinking (probably too much) when asked to do this Veteran’s Day Spotlight and started wondering what to write about. Do I write about my day-to-day job while I was in? Do I write about my experience? And how do I tie all these things to recovery? I ultimately decided (literally at this moment) to write about the conflict I feel of being a veteran AND a woman in long-term recovery.

There is a part of me that thinks that everything I learned while in the military (the drive, the determination, the discipline) should have been enough to keep me sober (or at least not a drunk). A small part of me that thinks I brought shame to the title of U.S. Marine because I couldn’t keep my drinking under control and had to find outside help to get the recovery I so desperately needed. I mean c’mon, I’m a U.S. Marine, a certified bad ass. Getting sober should be a piece of cake compared to everything I did, right? ...Wrong. It’s not the same thing. While the things I learned when serving did help me in my recovery, it was a combination of those with other elements that brought me to the successful recovery I have come to know and cherish.  

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As a Peer Recovery Coach (and even just a person in recovery) I am aware these are just feelings and not facts, but that doesn’t mean they don’t creep into my brain. Feeling I brought shame to a title I worked so hard to get, feeling like I didn’t deserve to be proud of the hard work I put in because I had an issue with alcohol. Feeling like I let my brothers and sisters in arms down because I couldn’t be the Marine I needed to be because I was too busy being a drunk.

I do need to say this to any veteran or active duty service member who may have felt or is feeling the same way I have. Being in or needing to be in recovery is not something to be ashamed of. Let me repeat myself with gusto…BEING IN OR NEEDING TO BE IN RECOVERY IS NOT SOMETHING TO BE ASHAMED OF. It is not something that brings shame to the title you earned. It does not leave a black mark on the sacrifices you made to defend this country. Recovery is something to be proud of and we need more leaders and empowering people in recovery so that we may help the others around us. Those leadership skills that only the military can provide are so vital in this world and the only way those skills enter our recovery world is if we make them. Let’s start making them a part of this world.

I once told someone that while becoming and being a United States Marine was a very challenging and rewarding thing in my life, finding long-term recovery was even more so. Obviously being a United States Marine is a huge honor and accomplishment that puts me on a short list. But you know what else is a huge honor and accomplishment? Being Sober AF.

So. Let me try this again: “Hi, my name is Ali and I am a veteran in long-term recovery”.

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