Before Staff Sgt. Charles Reilly arrived in the Warrior Transition Battalion, Company A, he said he had been through “hell.”
“I can’t say enough about them. They are, hands-down, the best company in the WTB. They really understand the Soldier and take care of the Soldier no matter what,” said Reilly, who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and vision, neck and back problems.
A 15-year veteran, it was on Reilly’s fifth deployment, a mission that took him to Afghanistan, in which he suffered injuries as a result of an improvised explosive device.
For those injuries, the Alabama native was awarded a Purple Heart.
The loss of two good friends on a subsequent deployment to Afghanistan sent Reilly into a tailspin.
“It was a trigger,” he said. “I loved going on missions — it’s when you get back that your mind starts playing with you and you start thinking about all the close calls and your buddies getting hurt and dying.”
His foray into alcohol abuse got him reduced in rank from sergeant first class to staff sergeant and eventually to sergeant.
Reilly’s wife, Crystal, saw the tailspin ahead of others and said she asked his command for help. But her husband couldn’t admit that he had any issues, which is the first step to getting assistance.
Reilly, who was assigned to the Headquarters Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, said he had always dreamed of becoming a Green Beret and didn’t want to jeopardize his career.
“Anybody with PTSD, the military needs to focus more on the Soldier and Family because the Soldier is living the dream and he’s not going to admit that he’s having a problem,” Reilly said.
The WTB helped him get back on track, even getting promoted back up to staff sergeant. They helped with financial guidance since the Family struggled through loss of pay following demotions and they devised a treatment plan.
“They (WTB) sincerely care and understand if you’re having issues with certain things,” Reilly said. “They’ll adapt to you. Each Soldier has customized leadership.”
Reilly credits the leadership of Capt. Steven Coon, 1st Sgt. Michael Watts and Staff Sgt. Michael Payne — “they’ve tried to alleviate some of the stress off (my Family) as opposed to adding to it,” he explained.
Despite the medical issues, Reilly, who is on track for medical retirement in a few months, said he would indeed enlist all over again.
“I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. It means more to me than anything,” Reilly said. “There’s nothing better than being a Green Beret because I achieved my dream and I’ll just start a new chapter in my life.”