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    Sgt. 1st Class Julio Rodriguez: Coming out of the darkness

    Army Trials 2018

    Photo By Spc. Nathanael Mercado | U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Julio Rodriguez, assigned to the Warrior Transition...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Army Recovery Care Program

    Sgt. 1st Class Julio Rodriquez: Coming out of the darkness
    By Annette P. Gomes, Warrior Care and Transition

    ARLINGTON, Va. – “Those two days were the end of who I was and the beginning of the person I am becoming.”

    Sgt. 1st Class Julio Rodriguez says March 1st and 2nd of 2015 are two days that will remain embedded in his mind forever.

    While deployed to Iraq, Rodriguez says he quickly found himself in a very dark place after personal demons set in.

    “On March 1, I had my first suicidal thought. A vivid mental picture of me laying on my bunk with my Beretta pistol pointed to my head. I realized I broke at that point, but I was determined not to give in. I quickly snapped out of it and thought that I regained my composure, but I didn't,” Rodriguez said. “On March 2, another vivid mental picture popped in my head, this time I was walking towards the dining hall and I saw myself sitting against a wall with my pistol in my hand, and a bullet hole in my chest. It was at that point that I realized was beyond self-recovery and the steps I was taking on my own failed.”

    After confiding in a friend, Rodriguez sought the help he needed. He was diagnosed with major depression and suicidal ideation and was evacuated from combat operations in the Central Command Theater of Operations. He later began therapy at the former Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Gordon, Georgia. Rodriguez says he was deeply in denial about his condition but with the impending birth of his daughter he slowly began to heal.

    “Knowing she was coming into the world, I had to fight for me and my life in order to ensure I was there for her. Over time, I learned my self-worth and realized life was worth living, but she was and will always be my ’Why’," Rodriguez said. “It’s funny during our darkest times, God will always find a way to show you the light.”

    Now the counterintelligence agent is sharing his story with others as a way of offering inspiration to anyone facing life challenges.

    “It was a horrible experience and knowing personally that even resilient people can break, I wish that on no one. I share my story with a lot of my Soldiers in my unit as a testament of what resiliency is all about,” Rodriguez said. “It’s important to see a behavioral health specialist right away. It gives them hope and a positive outlook during their situation. Till this day, I keep an eye on all my Soldiers. No one just decides to commit suicide. Suicide is an easy way to end pain during very difficult times when they feel nothing else is working. It’s the end of a progressive negative process.”

    As Rodriguez continues his process of healing, he says he’s now focused on the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

    “I had to recreate myself and establish a new me. It wasn't easy. I struggled a lot, but I managed to create a better version of myself,” Rodriguez said. “I still retained some things from the old me and I developed new hobbies, goals, set priorities, and created a new leadership style based on my experience. I am stronger and better than I use to be and I'm grateful for everything I have.”



    Date Taken: 05.10.2018
    Date Posted: 05.10.2018 13:56
    Story ID: 276576
    Location: ARLINGTON, VA, US 

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