I never thought I would fly a military aircraft again, but today after 1 year, 8 months and 24 days I got back in the air!
After losing now 23 people in my life in just a few short years my perspective on life has changed greatly. Family, close friends, comrades downrange and most recently two small babies through miscarriage, death is now a celebration of life for me. I cherish each moment with those around me and value each and every second of life that God has blessed me with.
I was miraculously healed of PTSD and Depression earlier this year, through the faithful prayers of a squadron member named Bart. I had struggled for months after my last deployment. There were times when weeks went by between mental health appointments because they are overwhelmed right now. I would find myself asking, “why God?” The mental, emotional and physical roller coaster I found myself riding was exhausting. I now find myself saying thank you God, remembering that each moment is a gift. Holding my kids, talking with my family, taking my wife for a walk or just sitting and looking at the sky, each and every moment is a gift.
Today I was blessed to fly with two of my former students whom I taught how to fly. The teacher becomes the student.
My instructor today was Rich Harr whom I gave his Navigation checkride earlier in my life in the T-1. Jackson Ranes, another former T-1 student of mine, sat quietly in the back until piping up at the end of my sortie just to say, “are we on the ground.” Kind words, from a kind man, only to make me feel good after my landings…if you’re reading this Jackson it worked, thank you! 🙂
Thank you also to to my family, friends and squadron mates who prayed with me, for me and believed in me. I was always told that if you ever went to mental health for anything you would never fly again. I now know this is a lie and I challenge anyone reading this to seek help if you need it. I also challenge you to love. There are signs when someone is struggling, for me it was tiredness, frustration, hopelessness, along with me just not acting like my normal self. Take a moment to talk with someone. Show compassion. Show that you care. If you are a spouse reading this you are the most likely to see these signs. There were times my wife held me as we cried together on the floor of our home. She would ask me if I was going to hurt myself, because I could not get the suicidal thoughts out of my head. She was patient and kind to me. She did not demand things from me, but patiently talked me through what I was thinking and feeling. She was love. I challenge you to do the same. In the end there will be three things that remain faith, hope and love, but the greatest is love. Show someone love today.
© Tony Weedn 2013
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