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A Story of Hope: Meet Tim

October 05, 2021

HopeWay gave me a different outlook on life. Just like the name says, I found hope. I’m a Veteran and spent 30 years in the Marine Corps. I grew up in a working class family where hard work and taking care of others were values that were instilled. After my time in the Marines, I took a job as a civil service employee for another 17 years before retiring.

I found that once I retired, after working for 47 years and my kids were grown, I didn’t have a plan for what I was going to do next. I felt lost and didn’t know where to turn. A couple months later, I got pretty down on myself and fell into a depressed state. It became clear I did not know how to enjoy life after work, so I tried to seek help where I live. I went to a therapist and a psychologist, but was unable to get the help I needed. It felt like people were either pushing medication on me (something I wanted to avoid) or not allowing me to express how I was really feeling.

After getting to a critically low point, my family started helping me explore other treatment options. We searched the internet and found HopeWay. We called admissions, made the drive to Charlotte for a consultation, and I was admitted to HopeWay’s Veterans Program.

It was difficult at first – mainly because I didn’t know what to expect from the program. After a few days, things started to turn around though.

With the help of Dr. Johnson and my primary therapist, Ross Cole, I was able to start a proper medication regiment. (As well as accept that it’s okay to take medication.) I started to form bonds with my group members and the staff, discovered characteristics about myself I had not realized before, and learned coping skills to take control of my life again.

One of the parts of the program I enjoyed the most were the integrative therapies. Those therapies particular helped me learn how to do many simple things that I could also do at home and enjoy during retirement. Some of the activities that I thought I wouldn’t enjoy doing – such as Horticulture Therapy and spending time in the Learning Kitchen - I found to be very beneficial. Because of these therapies, I’ve completely changed my diet. I cut out caffeine, alcohol, and sugar. My diet is now very plant-based, including food I am growing in my own garden.

I also discovered how to mediate and explore my own thoughts. Mornings in particular used to be difficult for me, but now I meditate every day to start the day off right. In the chance that I am having an off day or feeling anxious, I can always pull out my HopeWay binder and remind myself of something that Ross taught me - this feeling will pass and everything is going to be okay.

Transitioning from the military back to civilian life is a really a big change for a career Veteran, so to learn how to think differently and see life differently is important, and HopeWay helps you do that.

Some of us getting out of the military tend to get stuck in a certain way of thinking. An example for me was that everything was a mission. When I got out of serving, I turned everything into a mission. There had to be a plan A and a plan B and that was my way of thinking. HopeWay changed this though. I realized if things don’t go according to plan or if something doesn’t get done, that’s okay.

There are still some challenges. I have some good and bad days, but now I am able to come outside of my box and identify my feelings and cope with them. Before HopeWay, I had gotten to a point where I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to get out of bed, and I stopped doing the things I used to enjoy. One of the things I used to love doing was fishing. Prior to HopeWay, I hadn’t put my boat in the water in over a year. Now I’m about to take a fishing trip to Alaska with some of my Veteran buddies I reconnected with after leaving treatment. I had a long-time fear of flying because of some of my experiences in the military, so I also have not flown in years. The skills I learned at HopeWay helped me overcome this fear. Thanks to hard work and the help I received from HopeWay, I am able to start living, and enjoying, my life again.


Learn More About the Veterans Program


Editor’s note: This blog post is presented for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. If you have any health concern, see a licensed healthcare professional in person.