When my initial enlistment ended with the Marines over twenty years ago, I was a bit lost, which created anger, morphing into a chip on my shoulder which I carried around for a number of years. Having deployed and served in the infantry I didn’t really understand how to transition my skills as an adult truly on my own for the first time without the structure of the military. With age, I’ve gained the perspective that I was scared more than anything.
Later in life, I decided to return to the military as an Intelligence Officer in the Navy Reserves. This time I was married with twin girls. My wife had never been around the military prior to me serving this tour, so my service created a complexity when I left for a thirteen-month deployment. While our marriage was fairly strong, neither of us was prepared for the turmoil or hardship of separation would take on our family. Subsequently, I came home, and within a few months went through a divorce. While everything was amicable between her and me, it was still gut-wrenching to break up our family. Like anyone coming back from a deployment, coupled with a major life change, there were times I went to a dark place trying to understand how this all occurred in my life when I seemly had everything going for me.
Over the next few years, I began to work on figuring out how to best manage my life and work through past failures as to not repeat them moving forward. Of course, I made some colossal mistakes during this period, but I would say, overall, my batting average was above five hundred percent, which will get you into any hall of fame. However, it occurred to me that I had never really dealt with some major events from my past until this summer. After deciding to take a stand and do the work, I began to feel better. Life became more colorful. Relationships began to flourish. I found my laugh again. However, to use another baseball metaphor, I was stuck on third base.
Then a few weeks ago I traveled to Montana for my first COMMIT Foundation Transition Mentoring Workshop to meet part of the team, and to witness how we help transitioning members of the military find their next calling in life. The workshop was held in partnership with Warriors & Quiet Waters at their property, Quiet Waters Ranch, thanks to a grant for both organizations from the Rumsfeld Foundation.
When you first step foot on the property, a sense of calm envelops you, almost as if you’re crossing an invisible line into another world. The serenity of the property combined with the natural backdrop of the Montana mountains allows you to become vulnerable and take a deep breath of relief.
As luck had it, the workshop was down a person, so I was asked to fill in so there would be even numbers during partnering activities. I learned so much from the veterans who I knew nothing about prior to that morning. Individuals who have served with distinction around the globe opened up about their stories, fears, and pressures. It was that day I finally got to home base with my own healing. I finally was able to let go of the past, the anger, the resentment, and the tortured thoughts that haunted me, trading them for both the providential and natural peace I found through the COMMIT program and Warriors and Quiet Waters.
This blog was written by Lukas Dwelly, a consultant for the COMMIT Foundation on Principle Gifts. Lukas has deployed three times, the last aboard the USS Truman in early 2020 (see picture above) You can learn more about the COMMIT Foundation and WQW's partnership by visiting COMMIT's website.