A Warrior’s Pledge: Terry Schartung Jr.
As part of Phase III, each No Barriers Warriors participant is asked to create a pledge at the end of their expedition. The pledge is an opportunity to work towards a meaningful personal goal and create a lasting connection to the No Barriers community. We hope you are inspired by the stories of how our Warriors Alumni are continuing to move forward and live a No Barriers Life.
What was your Pledge?
My pledge was to go back to school and pursue a degree in either Outdoor Leadership and Recreation Technology or Natural Resource Management.
How did it feel to accomplish your Pledge?
I didn’t realize I had accomplished my goal until No Barriers Warriors presented me with my “Pledge Reached” coin. It still feels a little surreal at times but mostly it feels fantastic to know that with the right focus and a good amount of energy I can accomplish the things I want to. I must also say that if it wasn’t for my “rope team” and my family’s support, I would not be where I am today.
What are some of the barriers you overcame to accomplish your Pledge?
Some of the Barriers I had to overcome . . . this one is a little harder to answer. When I was medically separated from the Army in February of 2016 it impacted me in a way I could not predict or foresee. I had been struggling with PTSD since 2005 when I returned from my first and most “exciting” deployment, a completely different person than when I left 14 months prior. I had attempted to deal with it on my own in a number of different ways, but nothing really helped me address it. I had essentially avoided and denied it for so long that I had the hardest time accepting that I really had PTSD. I was still wrapped up in the negative stigma that is/was associated with it, so I pretended that I didn’t have it. This took a toll on me, my wife and my kids. I am sure that it also affected my professional and personal relationships with others as well.
“One of the hardest barriers I had to overcome was accepting that I do indeed have PTSD.”
Another barrier I had to overcome was realizing that I had poured so much of myself into being a Soldier and NCO that I had let that become my identity. It wasn’t what I did, it is who I had become. It was who I am. So when the Army chose to separate me, I was lost. I had no idea what to do next. I spent months sitting on the couch trapped in my mind and trying to figure out who I am. I mean if I am a NCO, a leader, but I have no one to lead, no Army to work for, then who and what am I? My world was getting smaller by the day and I didn’t care. I am still discovering who I really am, but at least now I know that I am more than what I do . . . for work, or for fun. Those things are only part of who I am.
Trust and crowds were two more barriers I had to overcome. I get really uncomfortable in crowds, to the point where I have to leave most of the time because of the anxiety and fear that something bad is going to happen and I can not control it. I have a hard time trusting others. This is getting better, but it has not been easy to put trust back into people and I hope that Didrik was right when he said “you have to have faith that most people are good.”
Fear was another barrier. I was afraid of failing at something else. I was afraid that I would have a “dysfunctional vet moment” at school and that scared me even more. I was afraid I wasn’t smart enough; I had been out of school for more than 25 years. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do it. Basically I was afraid of the very idea of it, but it was something that I had wanted and thought about for a very long time. What if I failed?
What advice would you give to fellow alumni as they work towards accomplishing their own Pledge?
Try it! Whatever it is you want to do, TRY IT!
Don’t give up! It won’t be easy. If it is easy then you need to do it and pick a harder one next time. Just because it is hard, you’re out of your comfort zone, you’re tired or whatever else you try and tell yourself to not have to keep going, DO NOT GIVE UP!
There are an endless amount of motivational quotes and memes in this digital age. One that I like and think is appropriate is this:
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience
in which you really stop to look fear in the face.
You must do the very thing you think you cannot do. —Eleanor Roosevelt