Thank you, Vail Veterans Program, for helping save my life
My name is Henry Escobedo and I am a disabled veteran. I proudly and honorably served in the United States Army for 12 years as an indirect fire infantryman. Due to life circumstances, my career in the military came to an end while I was deployed. It affected my life emotionally, physically and mentally. However, with time and the proper support and assistance, I have come a long way to being myself again.
I could keep telling you more and more about myself, but I actually want to tell you about an awesome program called the Vail Veterans Program. I want to start by saying that this program has changed my life and the lives of my family and other veterans.
I still remember 2016 when I found myself isolated, resentful and mostly depressed because of what I was encountering and going through. At that time, I believed that I had no purpose, no reason, and no desire to make any plans or goals. I deeply hurt my family because they were going to witness my mental, physical and emotional deterioration. Sometimes I knew I was doing wrong and needed a change, but I didn’t know how to pursue such a change. I was stuck in my grief, my depression and my extreme isolation.
Honestly, I didn’t care about anything, including my family. I know it sounds awful reading such a statement, but in all honesty, that’s how I felt at the time. I couldn’t think of anything but despair and the tragic life I was living. However, I must say that there is always a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.
This glimpse of light came to me in October 2016 when I was invited to the Vail Veterans program in Orlando, Florida called Veterans Path to Success. I attended the program, but was a bit skeptical because of my worldview and environment.
However, it is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. I left the program with a completely different worldview, mindset and attitude. Of course, it took me a while to start implementing some changes, but I did. With the help and support of my family, it made things easier and achievable.
After completing the training program, I was then invited to participate in a resiliency program in Vail, as well as the summer family program. Each program provided a stepping stone to achieving my goals of wellness, life satisfaction, and family connections. The structure and planning of the activities offered by the program are superb. It actually focuses on how veterans can become empowered, challenged, and confident in what they can do.
The great part about it is that they do it through recreational adaptive sports. I know for a fact that it gave me confidence, self-esteem and gave me the means to meet all the challenges that come my way with a positive attitude.
My wife and I are no longer arguing or talking about divorce. My children and I no longer have a distant relationship. I am no longer a lone stranger to my friends and peers.
The Vail Veterans Program has helped me achieve my goals and more. I’ve come a long way and I’m beyond grateful to Cheryl Jensen, the Vail Vets team and the Vail community for giving me the opportunity to be part of such a wonderful family. Because even though it is a program, in the end it becomes a concept of family, love and companionship.
From where I was to where I am now, I’m reaching for the stars. Now I have a wonderful happy family. I am two semesters away from completing and receiving my Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I couldn’t ask for more because I have been blessed with the right resources, support and assistance.
As I mentioned earlier, there is always a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel. For me, it was the Vail Veterans Program, such a wonderful program that changed the lives of my family, the lives of my comrades, but most of all, my life.
Henry Escobedo was born in Guatemala and immigrated to the United States when he was 9 years old. He joined the army at 19 and was deployed in the infantry during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. He quickly rose to Sergeant First Class.
Escobedo suffered a concussion after falling from his vehicle in Baghdad/Al Kufa-Najaf, Iraq. He left the army but returned with a training regiment in the Active Guard Reserve. He was back in Iraq in 2010 to help train the Iraqi army.
Between these two deployments, headaches and dry eyes began to plague him and his vision deteriorated. He is now legally blind with minimal light perception and is medically retired.
He and his family – his wife Mayra whom he met while serving in Iraq, his son Jairo and his daughter Jade – live in Texas in a house built by the organization Homes For Our Troops. Escobedo’s biographical information comes from Houses for our troops.