If you’ve been down the road Michael Jean-Mary has traveled, then you know why it’s hard to hold the tears back.
Jean-Mary spent 10 years as an Army Specialist.
“2003 to 2004, I found myself in Kabul, Afghanistan.“Our job was to guard the dignitary compound and they were so angry, all they did every day…was attack us.”
5 years later, came the harsh reality.
“I got out in 2009 from the pressure. I suffer from PTSD.”
As it is for many veterans, is a diagnosis that changes everything.
“Coming home…I wasn’t able to keep my job just because I came home different,” he says. “I was just from couch to couch just trying to survive. When you can’t pay you bills, and the weight pushes you down, you can’t breathe.”
That’s when he the Wounded Veterans Relief Fund.
Their goal of the organization, based in Lake Park, is to fill in the financial gaps for struggling vets like Michael.
It helps to take away at least one burden from their lives.
“Over 826 thousand dollars was given in assistance last year,” executive director Mike Durkee says.
Michael says he is grateful.
“I was drowning and you guys was that life vest that helped me float,” he says.
He wasn’t the only one he was trying to keep above water.
“I have two kids and it’s not about me now…it’s about my kids and my family.”
His advice for other vets – don’t go it alone.
“Don’t hold that stuff inside. Get help. If it’s a friend, if it’s family.”
With that help from the relief fund now tears of despair give way to signs of hope.
For more info on the Wounded Veterans Relief Fund, click here