Stories From Family Members
About the founder of the Walk of Silence, Turra Gorman
My name is Turra Gorman and I have a story to tell. My son, Dustin Szarell is a veteran of the US Army, having served in Iraq and South Korea. When Dustin completed his tour of duty, he returned home to celebration and several medals but a very difficult transition to civilian life. Dustin had headaches, difficulty concentrating, sleeplessness and most disturbing hyped speech and all his talk was matters of war. My only prayer at the time was that he would settle in but that did not happen. Dustin had lost jobs, got into car accidents and did not seem to be able to critically think through daily life issues. I tried everything I knew as a mom to assist my son but nothing seemed to help. That is when I turned to Veteran Service Commission in Canton, Ohio.
I made an appointment for Dustin to see a VA doctor. It started out with the usual round of questions but never seemed to evaluate the deeper stuff, like headaches, sleeplessness and hyped physical and over active thought processes, which included nightmares. I felt like they were about to tell me he is in good shape and send him home and that is when I burst into tears and a more serious evaluation began. I explained his behavior and how we did not understand what was going on with him, that he was not the son we sent into the Army. I explained that his behavior was wrecking havoc in our lives and we could not continue to function like this any longer. My poor son was exhausted and wanted help so bad because he could live this way anymore either.
The next day Dustin was assigned a case manager and taken to the Valor Home. Valor Home is a shelter for displaced and homeless veterans. Through Valor Home Dustin found support, training, attended 12-step meetings, help with securing employment and disability income through VA. Dustin obtained the much-needed medical attention he needed and got counseling, which he still receives. I got to attend support groups at a local church to understand what my son was going through. Dustin suffered PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and moderate hearing loss. Dustin drinking was his way of coping and only complicated matters.
I am happy to say that my son is 7 years sober, lives independently in Ravenna and works a part time job and continues to lead 12-step meetings and is a faithful attender of functions to assist veterans coming home. I am very proud of him and all the work he has put into pulling his life back together. Dustin continues to see VA doctors, and has case manager to network with. I told Dustin we have a story to tell and our hope is to get the word out to transitioning vets and their families. Transition can be very difficult and scary. We had no idea where to go to get help. My hope with Moms4Vets is that we can get the word out and help others to find the support and help in the transition process.
Together with Wheels4Change, I would like to develop a support and awareness group to direct families and veterans to find help within the VA system. Funding raised would help pay for information and supplies to get the word out as to where to go for support and medical care. In the future we would like to develop a model to facilitate lay persons to lead support groups in their area to help vets and families cope and support each other in the transition process. My wish is that no family has to go through this alone and that we can band together. These men and women put their lives on the line for us, now it is time we stand up and fight for them!
Stories From Veterans:
“Wheels 4 Change has helped me realize that the message is important to get out to veterans. By helping get the message out I don’t feel like a failure in life as much anymore. I have purpose. ~ Tom P
When I first encountered Wheels4Change it was introduced to me as a sponsor for obtaining a bicycle
for doing community service. I had already done massive and extensive work as in me eyes it had to be done and wasn’t getting there on its own. It was then I gained knowledge of their mission concerning awareness of the suicides among veterans and active duty personnel. It evolved even further by introducing to our community that this is more than a club or organization, but a way of life! The wellness of mind, body and soul. The staff glows with energy and the extended network of people radiate with joy at making ones acquaintance. They are not condescending given the circumstances, but encouraging to go beyond what you thought was your best. Their own dignity makes it easy to welcome the stranger no matter who he was. I am ever so grateful to be the slightest of participants, even though often the last one in. You feel the comradely as their awaiting you, not to finish, but to welcome you back. You know it is beautiful but unable to describe it visually. Just like a wheel turning, constantly moving progressively forward. A blessing without words! ~ Donnie R.
“Wheels 4 Change has given me a positive outlet in which i am able to express myself while making a positive impact for vets such as myself. ~ Randy J.
As I was involved with the Ride 4 The 23 I was happy to see that there is a program such as this helping veterans. It gave me a chance to do something outside of myself. I did not know that there a 23 veterans daily that commit suicide. W4C has given me a chance to be a part of something that is a good cause and also helps us veterans as well as raise awareness. I am truly blessed to be involved with W4C! Never in a million years did I think that 8 years after being discharged from the Marines that I would ever run again or want to participate in bike rides or 5k’s, triathlons or marathons, but now I am starting to enjoy it and it’s become an essential part of my recovery! ~ Chris B.
Wheels4change has helped me tremendously with my recovery and every day life. I lacked motivation to go out and be active until I met Cassie and heard about Wheels4change. I am in way better physical and mental shape now because I exercise every day now. I enjoy going out to events and meeting new people. Everyone is always so happy and it is contagious which helps me out quite a bit. I’m glad Wheels4change is there for me and everyone else and that I can be a part of it. ~ Jake Y.