Injured San Antonio area veteran shares mental health story to help fellow struggling veterans while on vacation
The physical injuries of an injured veteran always affect their mental health, but veterans often only seek help with physical injuries. Juan “JJ” Guerrero, a Marine and Army veteran in the San Antonio area, says he knows the vacations can be a tough time for injured or ill vets and wants his peers to know that. just as important as a cure is help with mental problems. physical injuries.
Guerrero courageously served our country for 23 years. He spent four years in the US Marine Corps and 19 years in the US Army.
In 2006, Guerrero was injured by a roadside bomb during his second tour of Iraq.
“It was an EPF, an explosive, very deadly ground penetrator. I was very lucky not to be dead when it went off, ”he said.
Both of Guerrero’s legs were severely damaged. He spent three years recovering before his right leg was amputated below the knee. Several years passed, and skin cancer in his left heel forced him to amputate that leg as well.
“It always affects you mentally because it’s not an easy thing to go through,” he said. “For me, it’s always in the background. I can’t forget what I’ve been through just because wearing prosthetics is a reminder, a daily reminder, of what happened.
Guerrero admits he went through some dark times, even wondering if he wanted to be alive.
“To be honest, I was at this place a couple of times. But I think it’s because I have someone who helped me, ”he said.
Guerrero said his life changed when he met his wife, Shannon, who eventually suggested counseling.
“I was bottling everything and it was affecting our relationship,” he admitted.
That’s when Guerrero used the nonprofit Semper Fi & America’s Fund, which offers long-term wellness programs to injured veterans.
“Get help, even if it hurts your pride, your ego, you just have to do these things,” Guerrero said.
He even received help adjusting to his home after his amputations.
“They really care about the people they help. They are doing a good job. They organize Christmas parties for veterans. They always send cards or notes while on vacation, and it makes you feel like part of a family, and it is, ”he said.
Guerrero said the vacation could worsen mental health issues for many servicemen.
“It’s a time when everyone gets together, so if you’re alone, who comes to visit you?” Where are you going? It makes things more difficult, ”he explained.
That is why he wants veterans and serving members to know that they are never truly alone.
“Even if you are alone, there is always someone listening to you and reaching out to you,” he said.
Asking for help helped Guerrero get his life back on track.
“It’s that positivity. I’m able to run when I need to when chasing my kids, ”Guerrero said.
With four boys, he knows his self-healing should be a priority, and he hopes he can inspire others to seek help this holiday season to find that same positivity.
Guerrero said he has a long list of military buddies he calls to check on each holiday season, making sure they know they matter. He encourages others to do the same. He said a text or a call could make a huge difference.
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