Talon News - Good Local News



Jessica Selph

David stands inside one of the dug outs at the softball field in Riverside Park. The dug outs were re-built with help from SJRMC and the Mission Continues Volunteers

Some people see me around town with a royal blue shirt and digital camouflage pants on. They ask me, "Are you in the military?" I tell them I was, but now I'm a volunteer. I tell them that I work in collaboration with the City of Aztec and a veterans group called The Mission Continues. The organization empowers combat wounded veterans, like myself, who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact. The Mission Continues has deployed me on new missions in and around the Four Corners area so that my actions will inspire future generations to serve and improve lives, homes and communities.

Getting involved within my local community fills the void of service I lost when I left the military in 2009, after 9 years of active duty. I moved to Albuquerque to finish my education and started my journey to give back. I began volunteering and working with homeless veterans at The New Mexico Veterans Integration Center. After receiving my bachelors degree I decided to become a fellow of The Mission Continues and I returned to my hometown of Aztec. I have searched, and searched some more, for veteran based programs and outlets to help me overcome the challenge of transition and feel so relieved to have found The Mission Continues. It has been the single most empowering experience of the last several years.

I fought in a war 14 years ago, and gave the best I could give. I've seen and done things you couldn't imagine. They say time heals all wounds, but it's a lie. I left Iraq, but Iraq never left me. I carry it with me everywhere I go. Years later, I still have nightmares like you wouldn't believe. The VA says its post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. I wake up shaking, gasping for breath with tears in my eyes. In my dreams, I'm always running hard trying to escape. Sometimes my enemies are close enough for me to touch. I almost stop breathing to keep them from hearing me. I'm constantly thinking I'm not going to make it. Some nights they kill me before I wake up. My dreams are so raw, so real, they turn my soul inside out.

What I do to keep some of that off my mind is serving and helping out in the community. It keeps my nerves calm, it relaxes me, it tells me that here, I'm safer than I am over in Iraq. Sometimes I think to myself it would be easier if I were to do nothing at all, sit around the house and dwell on the past, but I know that is no way to show tribute to my comrades that never made it home. When they are looking down on me and my battle buddy's that made it home, I know they don't want to see us living in the moment that killed them. We made it, we got home. We should honor their memory by living the life that they didn't get to live.

Giving back is a big part of my adjustment to life back home and also a personal philosophy. Giving back and working with others gives me a sense of direction. I was so excited to see the City of Aztec get on board with The Mission Continues. I have really enjoyed being able to come out of my shell and work with this great community where I know not only are my technical skills valuable, but my personal philosophies are as well.

I want to reach out to all veterans out there in the community, old and young, it doesn't matter if you served in combat or not. I'm another veteran that you can trust and bond with, kick back and indulge in an enjoyable recollection of the military life. I am someone who can lead this community toward new operations. I challenge you to come out and join me in future events with Operation Keep Aztec Beautiful.

Everyone is also invited to see all the work that has been done at the softball field in Riverside Park, and play (or watch) an exciting and fun co-ed kickball tournament on Aug. 12. Games will start at 8 am. There will be trophies, food trucks, ice cream, snow cones, and tons of fun! Call 254-289-5259 or email [email protected] for more information. All proceeds from the tournament will go toward bleachers for the field.


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