Warriors for Freedom

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Warriors for Freedom – live

By Heide Brandes

U.S. Marine Chad Allcox fought in the Battle of Fallujah, one of the largest and fiercest battles during the entire Iraq War.

Fighting to gain control of the city from 4,000 jihadists during the war, which was fought from 2003 to 2011, was intense, to say the least. The Marines and other servicemen faced a tough fight, one that was intense, close and personal.

Yet, when Allcox returned home to Oklahoma City, he found himself in an even tougher battle—one that he would barely survive.

“It was extremely tough returning to civilian life,” he said. “You’ve been trained to constantly fight and be alert at all times. Then you come back to reality, and it doesn’t feel like reality.”

Like many returning veterans, Allcox began using medication to cope with the difficulties of life. Friends and family couldn’t help—they couldn’t understand what he had been through—and Allcox was afraid of being judged for what he had to do as a Marine.

“I ended up homeless,” he said. “This is extremely common for veterans. It helps to talk to other veterans, those who understand.”

Another veteran led Allcox to help, and through various nonprofit agencies, he was able to receive the assistance he needed. But he also knew others were suffering, missing the brotherhood and understanding that only soldiers know.

That’s when he heard about Warriors for Freedom. Warriors for Freedom’s mission is to connect service members, veterans and their families with resources needed to become united with the community again. The organization serves as a resource dedicated to supporting and improving mental, physical and holistic wellness for active-duty military, veterans and their families through social and recreational activities.

“When I heard about what they do, I said, ‘I want in,’” Allcox recalled. “I think it’s important to combine counseling and medication with activities like this to reduce the suicide rate in veterans.”

The organization also promotes awareness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), Combat Stress Reaction (CSR) and veteran suicide.

“We get those men and women out of the house for activities like hunting, fishing, golfing and anything that gets them out among the community,” said Amber Moulder, executive director. “It also allows the community to meet our heroes in a non-threatening environment.”

 

Warriors And The Wounded

Warriors for Freedom was started in 2011 by Maj. Ed Pulido, Brett Dick and Sgt. Scott Momper to serve as a not-for-profit leadership program that educated veterans on public speaking and sharing their story.

The idea came after both Pulido and Dick were at a conference and both received calls about servicemen they knew committing suicide.

“It started as an idea,” Moulder said. “Ed said, ‘Let’s get some of the guys together and go do something.’ At the time, they did mostly motocross and golf.”

In January 2012, Warriors for Freedom received its nonprofit status, and the work within the military community expanded leaps and bounds. The organization now also assists veterans as they transition from military life to civilian life through recreational and social activities and speaking engagements.

Additionally, Warriors for Freedom supports the family unit by providing scholarships and other resources that assist the family as a whole through outreach programs and partnering agencies.

“Transitioning to civilian life can be so difficult for veterans,” Moulder said. “So many of our men and women come home after deployment, but we usually don’t see them until about five years after they return. Many of them have trouble transitioning. Many are drinking heavily, abusing their pain pills or having family problems.”

Going from a highly-regimented schedule and life in the military to the casual civilian life is oftentimes confusing and troubling for veterans. They also miss the brotherhood they shared while deployed, and many struggle to find jobs.

“They have seen and heard things we as civilians will never understand, like what it’s like to be in combat,” Moulder said. “Ten years ago, no one talked about mental health with veterans. You were told you were weak if you had a problem.”

Today, Warriors for Freedom has more than 400 veteran members who participate in activities ranging from wine and painting classes to MMA fighting, kickball, golfing and more. The organization also has a Warrior Women’s project.

“We also serve as a resource, connecting veterans to mental health providers if they need it,” Moulder said.

 

Finding The Brotherhood

“Ask any vet, and they will say what they miss the most is the camaraderie and brotherhood of serving,” said Moulder. “That’s what they find here. There is an instant camaraderie. Members bond over stores and find that brotherhood again.”

Allcox is now an active member of Warriors for Freedom. He helps plan and run events and reaches out to other soldiers who may be suffering.

“I’ve seen veterans with extreme depression come, and as soon as they are around other vets and back in the brotherhood, they open up more and smile more,” Allcox said. “It is a huge improvement to their stability. I speak with veterans to help them through the rough times. We’ve seen some vets who were suicidal when they came, but then leave an event with hope.”

For information or to donate, visit

warriorsforfreedom.org. For immediate assistance, call 1-800-247-TALK.

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