Veterans

Freedom for Veterans

- by Hand of Hope 4 MIN READ

Helping Struggling Veterans Get Their Lives Back

Have you ever gone all in to pursue a dream—so much so that your entire life’s plan was tied up in it—only for that dream to be shattered? Few things are more disorienting than disappointment, and Sean O’Neill understands how it can set you on a path you never expected.

After an Army deployment to Iraq, Sean came back to the U.S. with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Still in the Army, he suffered a serious injury: a broken sternum and two broken ribs. Unable to heal on the job, he was discharged.

With no reason to get up each morning and an ongoing battle with PTSD, Sean fell into a deep depression and struggled with an addiction to pain pills. He was barely able to leave his room to eat, much less do anything else.

“I felt like the military gave me a purpose,” Sean told us. “I was proud to strap my boots on every day, and once I didn’t have that, it just depleted me. I was just lost—it was hard for me to get back on my feet.”

Sean’s mom watched, brokenhearted, as he fought the addiction alone for two long years. Then she strongly encouraged him to try going to a rehabilitation program. She suggested the Los Angeles Dream Center (LADC), which had teamed up with Joyce Meyer Ministries to provide a program specifically for veterans.

He decided to give them a try and to this day, he says he’s so glad he did. Even after he went home, relapsed, and returned to the program, he was welcomed back and loved just as if he’d never left.

“When you first get here, they just shower you with love and patience, and they just take their time with you, they give you time.  Time is so valuable,” Sean emphasized with gratitude. “Everything’s free here, so you don’t have to worry about anything else… you can work on getting your mind right, filling yourself up with the [Holy] Spirit. You’re working on getting a good foundation, and then build yourself up from there. But that’s what this place does, [it] gives you valuable time to work on yourself.”

One of the greatest ways the LADC has been able to help Sean is by being there to walk him through processing nightmares caused by his post-traumatic stress disorder. Before attending the LADC program, each nightmare used to put him out of commission for three days at a time, but now his average recovery time is about half a day.

“Now, if I have a dream like that, I can just come talk to one of my leaders here, they’ll pray and then something [will] just change and [I’ll] feel different,” Sean shared as he was completing his second year in the program.

Sean is one of over a million veterans in the U.S. who has struggled with addiction¹.  And according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly one out of every three veterans seeking treatment for substance abuse also battles PTSD². For that reason, the LADC created this program specifically to help meet their needs, and Hand of Hope, Joyce Meyer Ministries World Missions was thrilled and honored to take part in making it possible.

Thankfully, not only has the LADC helped Sean begin to recover from so much pain, but he’s also genuinely encountered God’s love for him and grown by leaps and bounds. Even Sean’s family has come closer to Jesus through watching his example and seeing him grow and change, and Sean is so thankful for the work God has done in his heart the past few years.

“When you come here and you get sober, you start thinking different, you start reacting different, you start treating people different,” Sean told us. “My faith is so much stronger now... It’s just a beautiful thing.”

With your help, our amazing partners, we’re honored to be able to work with the Los Angeles Dream Center and other organizations to share the Source of hope and new beginnings. Together we’re working to help many who are struggling with addictions—including veterans like Sean—heal from trauma, find freedom and discover the beautiful new start God has for them.

THANK YOU for presenting God’s love to hurting people in a way that truly matters, both now and in eternity. We couldn’t do this without you!

1. www.samhsa.gov 2. www.ptsd.va.gov