“What I went through was horrifying, and I couldn’t find housing because of the felony. Helping others not make the same mistakes I made would be a light in all of this.” Those are the words of Andrew Roebuck, a disabled U.S. Air Force veteran. Andrew served in the U.S. Air Force for three and a half years as an airborne radar technician. Andrew loved that his job was high-stress, no two days were alike, and the life-long friendships he built while in the Air Force. However, Andrew’s time in the Air Force was not without challenges. He frequently found himself in trouble for breaking rules or missing appointments, and he lived in constant anxiety about making a mistake.
Unfortunately, Andrew was discharged for multiple minor discrepancies, and he began his transition into civilian life a lot sooner than he expected to. On top of that, Andrew found out he was going to be a new father at the same time he was leaving the Air Force. Andrew was “in shock from what happened”, and transitioning out became increasingly difficult when he had to move back home with his mom in California. Andrew told Home Front Military Network that “a lot of depression came in this time” and his “mental health was all over the place.”
While in California, Andrew was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Andrew believes he has struggled with bipolarism his whole life, and that his mental health struggles were part of the reason he was acting out so much during his time in the military. Now, a disabled veteran with limited money and a family to support, Andrew grew “disheartened by what resources were out there because it was difficult to find quality assistance.” After issues with his landlord, Andrew was kicked out of housing and found himself living in a hotel in a dangerous area with his children. Wanting to provide a better life for his daughters, Andrew moved his family to Colorado Springs because it was more affordable than California. With limited access to quality mental health care, Andrew once again began struggling with mood swings. This led to fights with his daughter’s mother and left him feeling completely isolated due to his mental illness. Andrew began having suicidal ideations and ended up in a mental health hospital to treat his illness. When Andrew was discharged, his family had moved out of their home due to the turmoil his mental health struggles had created. Andrew found himself alone, once again. Losing his family triggered a major manic episode, causing Andrew to blackout. He awoke to see his family’s apartment on fire, and he knew deep down he was the one who caused it. Andrew described the event as “the feeling of waking up from your worst nightmare and realizing it was all true.”
After the fire, Andrew spent time in jail, homeless, and in and out of mental health hospitals. Andrew reached out to Home Front Military Network while in a mental health hospital because he had no where to go when he got out, his car was impounded, and he had lost all his belongings in the fire. By this time, Andrew was already connected to an incredible psychiatrist at HFMN’s partner organization, Family Care Center, and HFMN was able to connect Andrew to The Veterans Trauma Court. Andrew said “The Veterans Trauma Court was a blessing in my life that kept me out of prison. It was hard to face the fact that I now have a felony on my record, but The Veterans Trauma Court showed me that this is not who I am. Judge Shakes is incredible, and they were advocating for me because I was advocating for myself.” Additionally, Andrew’s HFMN case manager connected him to Operation TBI Freedom, which has been instrumental in providing him with the resources and support to get his life back on track. On top of connecting him with critical resources, HFMN’s case manager provided a calm presence that helped Andrew realize he was not a bad person and things would be okay. Andrew said, “just having someone advocating for me and supporting me was one of the most important things during this difficult time.”
Today, Andrew is living at the Salvation Army, with two of his daughters, there is a roof over their heads, and food on the table. Andrew is in school for coding/cyber security, and he is moving through the Veterans Trauma Court as quickly as he can. He hopes to become a mentor when he is done, so he can use his story to help other veterans like him. Andrew wants other veterans to know “you can’t live your life based on fear, and that fear might be stopping you from reaching out. Picking up the phone could be the one thing that changes your life. That could be the person who gets you the help and assistance you need. You just have to be able to ask for it.”
Home Front Military Network is aware of the unique mental challenges our military members face while actively serving and transitioning back into civilian life. Andrew told HFMN “I had mental health struggles my whole life, but the Air Force definitely exacerbated them because you have to view the world in such a different way.” Home Front Military Network gives back to the men and women who have given everything for us. Home Front Military Network has excellent partner agencies and resources to help our service members, veterans, and their families struggling with behavioral health. Andrew wants to create a world where “his daughters would be able to ask for help if they need it” and HFMN wants to do the same. Reach out today if you or a loved one needs assistance at 719-577-7417 or through our Network of Care.
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