When my wife and I made the decision to attend law school we knew that it was going to be a long journey and it would not be easy. We were both going to be in school full time, raising two kids, and unable to work due to our schedules. But we decided that pursuing our dreams would provide a better life for our family and the struggling would be worth it in the end. We thought we had a good understanding of what we were facing—boy was we wrong—there was nothing to prepare us for the level of stress we were undertaking.
After my first year in law school, we realized that this was A LOT. Stress levels for both of us went through the roof. We barely had time to get all of our school work done much less spend time as a family. Finances were becoming more difficult because the credit cards were getting maxed out. But we knew we had to keep pushing and figure things out. That was our only option. Luckily, I found out about Sentinels of Freedom, and the scholarship and numerous benefits that they had to offer. I’ll never forget the day that I got the email congratulating me for being accepted as a Sentinel. We were all in the backyard visiting with family while the kids ran around. As soon as I read the email I jumped out of my seat with excitement. Told my wife the amazing news, and instantly there was a relief that filled us both. We knew that this meant we were getting a living stipend, which was going to help pay our rent for the rest of our time in Law School. But we weren’t really expecting all of the other great things that Sentinels of Freedom Offered.
Don’t get me wrong the scholarship is great and significantly helped out with our financial burden. But honestly, it’s one of the least valuable things that Sentinels of Freedom Offers. The most valuable thing to me was my mentor Carol. She immediately became like a family member. Wanting to know how we were doing, anything new in our lives, anything she could do to help. Yes we had that from other family members, but they didn’t really understand the support we needed or how to give it. Carol did. I could call her or text her whenever. She became invested in me. She became invested in my family. Yes, she wanted to know what was going on, but she genuinely cared about me. I was struggling with severe PTSD and I still am. But she guided me through some obstacles. Just knowing that she was there for me if I needed her made a big difference.
I’m not saying she acted as my psychological counselor, but she did more than they could have. She was genuine. And genuine really matters when you are down in the gutter. I wanted to make her happy, proud, confident in my future. Because she cared, even though we have never met in person. Which one day will happen. She was able to learn about me, my needs, my interest, my desires. She then used this information to connect me with people that had been successful in those things so that I could learn from them. She never glossed over anything either, she wanted to know how the connection went, and I could tell that she wanted to know that because if it wasn’t a good fit she was going to connect me with someone else.
There are other people in the organization that also communicated with me and bent over backward to help me. Sam got me information that I needed so my wife and I could buy some land and start building a house. That’s right, struggling through law school—broke— before graduating buying land and building a house so that we have a home when we leave school. That’s an amazing turnaround. And it would not have been possible without the Sentinels of Freedom. The help they provided me was not just temporary, nor were the results of that help. They have made a positive impact on my life that will last forever. I am beyond proud to be a Sentinel, I probably wear my shirts too much, but I let everyone know about this organization. As a veteran, and as a person, it is the organization that I am most proud to be a part of.
There is no way that we can ever think of Sentinels of Freedom, Carol, Sam, and everyone else for the impact they made on our lives. But we do plan to become successful and give back to this organization so that they may continue helping others the way they helped us. I don’t have a single complaint about the organization, the people, or the program. Which says a lot because I typically can find something to complain about, lol. Sentinels of Freedom has not only helped me get through Law School, open my own firm—so that I can give back to the community, buy land, build a house, but most importantly has helped me to get somewhat back to normal. Through their help, I was able to deal with some of my own issues and be the best husband and father that I could be.