The Cost of Loving a Vet…

I recently took an Uber in route to the Vegas airport and as the driver loaded my luggage into the trunk, I noticed the government issued license plate that identified him as a disabled vet.

We got to talking and when I asked which branch he served, he said he was an Army Ranger who trained countless soldiers and had completed six tours in Afghanistan before God decided he had other plans for the rest of his life.

In our short 11 minute trip, I learned he received a fifteen dollar raise in over two decades of service before he was too injured to continue doing what he loved for his country. “It is what it is”, he told me about his unplanned fate, and when I told him that had been my Dad’s life motto before he passed away from a service related illness 5 years prior, I learned that both our dads served in the Vietnam war and had been faced with similar health challenges as a result.

I learned he was receiving full disability and working on the side for extra “throw away” money because otherwise he was just making ends meet. I additionally learned he had just broken his cheap sunglasses that he wore daily due to his visibly damaged eye from the shrapnel of a roadside bomb that required constant shade.

I learned he loved his job as an Uber driver because he enjoyed the diverse company and extra spending money, but was sometimes shamed at the sense of entitlement he felt at the hands of some customers who acted superior to him, the lowly regarded Uber driver he was in their shallow eyes…

I learned he took great pride in knowing all the back roads of the area so he could get his customers to their destination in the quickest way possible. He kept his car in pristine condition to keep his customers comfortable and frequently went out of his way to give a positive experience, only asking for a high service rating in return to ensure a constant flow of business.

As he helped me unload my luggage and I handed him a small token of my appreciation, it seemed to have stopped him in his tracks. He couldn’t stop thanking me and told me that I just afforded him a new pair of sunglasses. He said he was rarely compensated for his service and that he felt I would be blessed beyond measure for my generosity of blessing him.

I had just spent three days in Vegas trying to get comfortable in sinking dollar bills into slot machines that soaked them up quicker than I could push the button. It doesn’t matter whether this veteran became a good hustler who learned how to gain sympathy from his customers with his battle story or if he was truly sincere in his heartfelt appreciation. The latter is what I choose to believe.

What I never got to tell him before he drove away, regardless of his overall intent of the brief crossing of our paths, was that his words in those moments left me with bigger blessings than I could have ever received from the winnings of a slot machine.

Being reminded of my dad, the sacrifices of those who protect our freedom and the importance of appreciating those whose lives may be forever changed because of their commitment that often comes with a price, it simply cannot be bought. Time and words are free, and moments of life’s little synchronized connections such as these are priceless.

Love a vet. Thank them for their service. Let them know they matter. Bless them and be blessed.  It takes less than 11 minutes. And it doesn’t cost a thing.

The Recovery Journey

Much of my recovery path has been behind a keyboard.

Clear minded for the first time in longer than I wish to remember, my brain became a sponge yearning to soak up everything there is to know about addiction and recovery. Countless hours spent researching the latest trends, epidemics and tragedies of the thousands of lives lost from this forbidden curse I call addiction. And just as much time was spent wandering through all the different pathways to recovery that I never even realized existed.

But in no way would I recommend doing recovery alone. Isolation leads to what they call in treatment, stinkin’ thinkin. That deceitful little voice in your head that tells you everything will be alright so long as you just have one. I listened once, and that was reminder enough that my brain no longer understands moderation.

It’s been my experience that recovery thrives in community. And perhaps because with a sober mind, we actually enjoy creating meaningful relationships with others. Especially with people whose story looks like ours. To know someone with the same sorrow and heartbreak. To cheer them on with every milestone and pick them up when they fall down. It’s nothing short of empowering. Especially when you watch them start to like themselves again. And the same thing starts happening to you.


Friendship as I understand it today is so much more than having someone to sit next to while getting drunk in a bar. Meaningless conversation that brings nothing but the passing of time while the poison erases that which we drink to forget. I never really believed “community” would be much of a benefit until I found an online recovery group where I discovered people who really were just like me. With similar stories, but very different paths in how they got there.

And it was an enlightening realization that there’s a familiar thread in everyone’s story that I think only people in recovery comprehend. A profound reconnection with a passion that was buried deep beneath the pain of our affliction. A discovery of the inner child, I have heard it explained, the one who loved to dance in the rain and found joy in discovery of anything new. I now find solace in the connection to my younger self who found immense joy in writing about the adventures of life instead of drowning my sorrow with a swig from a bottle.


I spend my days focused on being present in the moment, enjoying all that I love in my new life through clear eyes. And I find myself yearning for the time in which I can write even more. Continuously writing away the troubles of my past and building dreams of the future, which brings so much hope and healing to my ever wounded spirit. It helps me remember how far I have come and keeps me hopeful for all that tomorrow may bring.


My recovery journey is ever changing. What worked for me a year ago is far different than what I strive for today. But what I gained from the past year was just what I needed at the time. I took what I needed from it, left what I didn’t behind and moved on.

And I have a feeling that is the part of recovery that stays constant regardless of your specific path. It’s a life long journey that continues to grow. And it must be continuously nurtured in order to thrive.

Find your passion. Connect with like minded people to build them up. Become stronger for it. And keep moving toward that childlike freedom that brings an enlightenment only someone in recovery truly understands.

A freedom I now long for that would have never been found in a bottle.