For WWP Alumnus, Tim McDonough, the message is clear: “You don’t have to be on the front line, kicking in doors and shooting at the enemy to be affected by the trauma of war. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is like a demon that takes over your mind and takes over your life.”
Tim McDonough dedicated his career in the United States Air Force to honoring those who sacrificed their lives, and he vows never to take their gift of freedom for granted.
“I was the flying crew chief of a plane so big you could put an eight-lane bowling alley in it. We carried all kinds of large cargo, armored vehicles, and even other aircraft. But we would also carry home the human remains of warriors killed serving our country.”
The images of those flag-draped caskets still flash through Tim’s mind.
“I knew these guys. They were my friends. We’d have a beer together, share a laugh, talk about how we miss our families, talk about the plans we had for our lives when we got home. There I was, in the sky, bringing them home for the last time. Those experiences make you a changed man.”
When Tim came home, PTSD consumed him.
“I was practically a hermit. I didn’t want to be around people. I didn’t want to leave the house. I had a lot of anger. Here I was with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and PTSD ganging up on me, and I was ready to quit and become a statistic.”
But to quit would have meant dishonoring those memories he sought to preserve and honor. Tim says he realized hopelessness was a lie.
“Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) makes me feel like I’m not alone. You meet warriors with all types of injuries - PTSD, TBI, burns, missing limbs, spine injuries, and numerous physical injuries. They inspire me because they refuse to have limitations. I’m now living the WWP logo. I was the guy on top being carried. That’s where we all start. Now I’ve come out of my shell to where I can be the warrior carrying another warrior.”
The ripple effect of positive change in Tim’s life reaches far beyond his personal health and wellness. His friends and family have had their lives enhanced by Tim’s emotional healing as well.
“WWP helped me focus on what I can do and not what I can’t do,” says Tim. “My wife Maggie has participated in caregiver events, and my kids have been able to meet other families involved with WWP. We even got to be a part of the Veterans Day parade in New York. WWP had my whole family surrounding me on a float because they wanted us all to know we are here for each other.”
That’s why, for Tim, the next logical step is to give back.
“I want other warriors to feel what I feel – acceptance. I’m involved because I care. We’re all warriors, and we’re all taking care of each other. Leading by example is the best medicine.”