My sobriety began two months before my seventeenth birthday. After three years of sobriety, I joined the U.S. Army. All I understood regarding my time abstaining from alcohol and drugs was “don’t drink or use, and go to 12 Step meetings.” Basic Combat Training was not an issue, but Advanced Individualized Training became increasingly difficult with lack of meeting attendance.
Bottles of alcohol began appearing, which made me very anxious when I could not attend 12 Step meetings on a regular basis. My drill instructor did not understand the importance of meeting attendance, nor did I understand the importance of having a solid understanding of how to apply the 12 Steps to my life. I returned to the civilian sector after only four months of military service.
Ten years later, after working various retail, factory, and construction jobs, attending school part-time and working two jobs, I realized that military service was not my issue. I was still new in sobriety and did not truly grasp what the military had to offer. It took a year to re-enter the military in 2007. Coming into a wartime Army is a lot easier than during peacetime.
Practicing the 12 Steps slowly over a period of 13 years assisted me for future deployments. In contrast to early recoveries in the 50s and 60s, where completion of ALL 12 Steps typically took place within less than 30 days.
Within recovery meetings, I have often heard the 12 Steps summarized as “trust God, clean house, and help others.” As a former agnostic, practicing the 12 Steps showed me evidence of a Creative Intelligence operating in my life, as I would allow him to present himself.
Today, my experience through 12 Step work has taught me the by-product of practicing the 12 Steps is I no longer have to worry about “picking up” a drug or drink. The connection that I feel to a Creative Intelligence is the most powerful when assisting others in establishing a connection of their own. Watching others re-create their lives into something useful is better than any high or drunk that I have ever experienced.
I began my military service in 2007 as a private first class, and today I am a Special Operations officer. The life I have today is nothing short of miraculous.
Looking back on my convictions developed from practicing the 12 Steps and growing in my recovery — I understand my purpose is to be of assistance to my Creator. What better place to assist and help in the world than in the world’s greatest military, and more specifically in the Special Operations Community?