MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WPMI) — If you are a veteran or first responder and find yourself in need of help Veteran’s Recovery Resources in Mobile is providing that help.
Tonight, we introduce you to one of the support specialists there.. who has turned his own life experiences, into the most rewarding career he could have imagined.
“ I needed a career. I needed to get away from mobile. I needed to grow up and become a man,” said Lloyd Michael Austin, Veteran Peer Support Specialist.
And that’s exactly what the army provided for Austin. After graduating high school in 1983, he was off to basic training.
“I never in a million years thought I would see combat,” said Austin.
But as operation desert storm ramped up, he was deployed to Iraq his life would be changed forever.
“Some of the things i was experiencing, and combat, and just devastating, there was quite devistating,” said Austin.
“You’re on edge every second. You don’t know if you’ll make it home. You don’t know if you’ll ever see your family again,” he said.
After two years of war, Austin returned, a very different man.
“When I came back home, I remember her saying where is my husband, and who are you,” said Austin.
His wife was right. After serving 14 years of service– he was a lost soul. Doctors and psychologists didn’t provide much help.
“They diagnosed us with Desert Storm Syndrome. Don’t know what that is to this day, but come to find out that is what it was. PTSD,” he said.
“So you tried to self-medicate?” said NBC 5 Greg Peterson.
“Yes, I tried to find the answer in the bottle, or pills or drugs.. but it didn’t get better.. it got worse,” said Austin.
Eventually, Austin hit rock bottom.
“Even being suicidal.. felt like you were useless.. weren’t a man, couldn’t wear the uniform anymore.. and you just felt like you were at the end of your rope,’ he said.
His search led him back to church. And in recovery, Austin found helping others, aided in his healing.
“We work here to save ourselves. And the more we help other soldiers and other veterans and first responders and their families, the better quality of life we get in return,” said Austin.
“You, and receive the help, and change the quality of your life. And that’s what we offer,” said Austin.