Jennifer

“God, If you have anything planned for my life, you’ll save me”, I said with a gun pointed to my head on a cold November night in 1998.
I would like to share just a part of my testimony in hopes that someone, even just one person, will be touched and would know that everything shapes us.

I had graduated high school the past spring and I was ready for everything that life threw my way. I wanted to join the Army but I was 17 and my parents wouldn’t sign. I wanted to go to college to work in social services but we couldn’t afford it and I had no idea what scholarships or grants were. Life as I knew it would consist of me being a wife and a mother in this small town with no opportunities. I wanted so badly to go somewhere and do something big; change the world, make a difference. But, how could I be so worthy? Where was my chance at life? How was I ever going to live and be a part of the American Dream?

Suicide Experience:

So here I am…I had recently started beauty college and was paying out of pocket. Then, I lost my job which ended up with me being a beauty school dropout. Drifting in to depression and feeling so worthless, I couldn’t see any light or direction for my life. Late one night, I was sitting it a 1940’s Victorian home, sitting by the fireplace and helping my boyfriend take care of an elderly man. The house is so cold and the emptiness is engulfing me. I picked up the phone to call my mom but someone was on the phone. I eaves drop just long enough to see who was on the phone. I hear my boyfriend talking to his cousin, who was very controlling of us both. She is telling him to drop me because I am a “ball and chain” taking up his time and holding him back. When in fact, it was completely opposite; I had moved from my parent’s home and in with him to be closer to my beauty school and also because he wanted us to get married. I was so unsure for the longest time but this is what was supposed to happen, right? Graduate high school, get married, have kids… that was life for those who didn’t have a way out of this small town.

I was fed up. I was heartbroken and didn’t have a dime to my name. I had no idea where I would go. I heard him agreeing with her and laughing at me. I have always been the dedicated type. I would give and do anything for anybody so why doesn’t he want me?
There were so many things going through my head and those thoughts were turning me farther away from reality. I remember a gun in the first bedroom closet, a Beretta M9, to be exact. I walked in there, took the gun off the top shelf, looked to see if the chambers were loaded… they were. Scared and shaken, I pointed it to my head right above the ear and said, “God, if you have anything planned for me, you’ll save me.” At that time, the door swung open, I saw a bright light of what seemed to be a million angels flooding in at once. I thought I had died! I did it and I’m out of my misery! As I was falling to the floor, I hear my boyfriend’s voice. He grabbed the gun and started yelling. I survived that night. I didn’t pull the trigger but I was in shock. God had a plan…

That plan has led me to be an Army Spouse, proud to be Family Strong. I am to lead other spouses, to be resourceful. Whether it is to help or just to lend an ear, I am Army Strong! Spouses have to be resilient and children have to be when they are part of the Army. It’s really important to be readily prepared and educated.

When my husband deployed last August I wondered how I would take care of our three children, ages four, six and nine, by myself. I worried about his safety and how I was going to stay behind, in a new place, three children. I became the Family Readiness Group Leader 3 months prior with no deployment experience and began to volunteer at Army Community Service.

My number one word during deployment was resiliency.

I had only been at Fort Riley for one and a half years and it’s opened my eyes to the military. The academy training, especially the ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) course, has helped me communicate better with my family.

You can work ASIST into everyday life to make situations a little easier. Everyone should be trained in ASIST because you never know when you are going to need it and it can be applied to other life events as well. Being able to share stories during the suicide prevention training was also a form of healing. It helps you prepare for whatever may happen in life because you share the stories and learn how to help others.

A year ago, I used the training to confront a mother who was being rude to my oldest daughter just to find that the problem wasn’t my daughter. The problem was deeper, this mother who was so depressed and was going through a deployment as well.

My hope is to bring the course to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where I currently reside, to help the spouses learn how to be more resilient when they go through a separation due to a deployment or even TDY. It’s a really good feeling to know that you can be a resource to find confidence within others and yourself to be more resilient. I am very grateful to be a part of those people who designed and implemented the training and took the time to think about the spouses, about us. And a special Thanks to COL Kevin Brown for sharing “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell. Mr. Gladwell states in his book that “connectors are individuals who have ties in many different realms and act as conduits between them, helping to engender connections, relationships, and “cross-fertilization” that otherwise might not have ever occurred.” That is what RSA is, a connector for spouses.

Jennifer: RSA Testimony

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