Written by Adam Carr with Jake Clark and Jason Roncoroni
I was just trying to find my way back home.
I didn’t know what to expect when I went live on Facebook that night. It was emotional to say the least. For the first time since beginning my military journey, I expressed my own vulnerability in a way that was both terrifying and liberating. In that moment, just sharing my experience was enough for me to continue moving forward. After I finished my 24-minute video, my life changed forever.
The video went viral across the internet. Thousands of people reached out to me looking for support. It took weeks to catch up on all the messages; however, there was one in particular that still sticks with me today.
A woman I never met sent me a message and told me that she had planned to end her life that day. Like me, she had lost hope, but after watching my video, she decided to continue living. My own pain and suffering inspired her to move forward. In my darkest moment, I found my purpose. I was able to help someone and felt empowered to help many more.
Coincidentally, the Founder, Executive Director, and a volunteer from Save A Warrior reached out to me. They invited me to meet with them at a local café. I had already opened my heart and soul on social media, so what else did I have to lose? I was still cautious. When I met them, I was armed. I conducted a detailed surveillance of the area ahead of our meeting. This was just who I was at the time. I was on high alert because I didn’t know anyone from Save A Warrior, and I couldn’t trust their intentions.
Jake Clark, the President and Founder of Save A Warrior, he invited me to spend a week in Malibu to witness the Save A Warrior experience. My life at the time wasn’t working, so I figured why not? As a Midwestern guy from Ohio, a trip to Malibu sounded great. I took the five-hour trip to California with no expectations. I was willing to lean into the experience, because I didn’t know what else to do or where else to turn.
I remember sizing up the other Warriors who traveled with me from Los Angeles International Airport to beautiful Pepperdine University. When I sat in the conference room on Sunday afternoon, I listened to fellow Warriors and Wounded Healers deliver the most genuine, authentic and real introduction and presentation I had ever seen. In the presence of complete strangers, they shared their own vulnerability, and for the first time in a long time, I felt safe. I knew I had come to the right place.
I was with 10 other Warriors in SAW Cohort 035. We labeled ourselves the “Lucky 11.” I witnessed Warriors not unlike myself from all walks of society tear down walls, offload serious baggage, process deep-rooted trauma, and ultimately form a brotherhood.
Over the course of the week, through the process of initiation, we rapidly achieved something akin to spiritual maturity. The gratitude that I felt for having the opportunity to go through this program, on a parallel path with my brothers, still radiates and resonates throughout my life to this day.
By the end of the week, light finally permeated the dark places in my soul that had haunted me for years. I felt like a new man because I was a new man. I could see it in the faces of others, but more importantly, I could feel it in my own heart. Save A Warrior provided the course correction I desperately required for a life that was spiraling in despair. I was on a new path of life in the service of others. More importantly, I was no longer ashamed of who I was.
When I returned home to Ohio, I continued new habits from "SAW". I meditated daily. I made my bed every morning. I lived life intentionally and was conscious of responding instead of reacting to stress. I approached situations with compassion and empathy. Slowly but surely, my life began to improve, and I began to experience the wonder of gratitude and peace.
Several months later, I was asked to come back to Save A Warrior. This time I was going to be a Shepherd. I was going to "hold space" for other Warriors and witness their experience of the Hero's Journey that helped to transform my own life. I felt honored to be a part of such a program because I knew we were changing lives for the better. Working at Save A Warrior became my new passion. To date, I’ve supported over a dozen Cohorts since I "sat in the seat", and I appreciate the opportunity to do for others that which has been done for me - for fun and for free.
What is the secret of this program?
What is it that distinguishes this experience from any other program?
First, this program provides the vital connection between Warriors that is so absent for our returning Veterans today.
Second, this program applies an archetypal approach to healing through the Hero’s Journey; a program of secular initiation that has been a part of social reintegration since the dawn of warfare.
Finally, this program is Warrior-led. It leverages the peer-to-peer power of the Wounded Healer to transform broken Warriors into Servant Leaders who continue a life in the service of others.
Where has my life gone since my experiences at SAW? I am attended and graduated from the Stanford Graduate School of Business as part of the world class, competitive entrepreneurship program called Ignite. I am networking with business leaders from across the country. I am also attending THE Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business MBA Program.
I still meditate every day, see my kids off to school, and take time for the most important things in life. I work as the Deputy Director of Operations at Save A Warrior, and I am working to expand operations to transform the condition of our Veteran Community of Practice.
I still have challenges. I still struggle with pain. I have yet to obtain a disability rating from the VA. What I do have is a new perspective on life. I live a life in service of others. I have a loving family. Most importantly, I am no longer a man who feels unworthy to hug his own wife. Today I can hug her until she lets me go.
Why do I share my story?
Because on Veteran’s Day, those of us who served have an obligation to share our story, and those who haven’t served have an obligation to hear what we have to say. We must all remember and share in the sacrifice that our servicemen and women make for our country, and our Veterans need to know that they can have happiness and fulfillment in life beyond the military.
Even as you read this, someone you know out there is struggling. Share this story so that they might "answer the call" and lean into the Save A Warrior experience. If you haven’t served, I humbly ask that you do your part and give to Save A Warrior so that we can continue to transform the lives of our Veterans.
Dr. Martin Luther King once said: “If you can’t fly, then run, If you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, keep moving forward.” I encourage you to do the same. No matter the season in your life. It is too precious to waste. Keep moving forward and you too can find your way back home.
You are worth it.
Adam Carr is the Deputy Director of Operations for Save A Warrior, Jake Clark is the Founder and Creative Director for Save A Warrior, and Jason Roncoroni is a Strategic Advisor and President of Ordinary Hero Coaching.