Thank you, Vail Veterans Program, for helping save my life
Injured veteran says Vail Valley-based nonprofit was the light at the end of his long tunnel
My name is Henry Escobedo and I am a disabled veteran. I proudly and honorably served in the United States Army for 12 years as an indirect-fire infantryman. Due to life circumstances, my career in the military came to a short end while deployed. That affected my life emotionally, physically, and mentally. However, with time and the proper support and assistance, I have come a long way to becoming myself once again.
I could keep telling you more and more about me, but I actually want to talk to you about an awesome program called the Vail Veterans Program. I want to start by saying that this program has changed my life and the lives of my family and other veterans.
I can still recall back to 2016 when I found myself isolated, resentful, and most of all depressed due to what I was encountering and living. At that time, I believed I had no purpose, no reason, and no desire to make plans or goals. I was hurting my family deeply since they would witness my mental, physical, and emotional deterioration. At times, I knew I was doing wrong and that I needed a change, but I did not know how to pursue such change. I was stuck in my sorrow, depression, and extreme isolation.
I honestly did not care for anything, including my family. I know it sounds horrible when reading such a statement, but in all honesty, that’s how I felt at the time. I couldn’t think of anything else other than the despair and tragic life that I was living. However, I must say that there is always a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.
That glimpse of light came to me in Oct. 2016 when I was invited to the Vail Veterans Program in Orlando, Florida, called Veterans Path to Success. I attended the program but was a bit skeptical because of how I used to see the world and environment.
However, it was the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. I left the program with a whole different world view, mentality, and attitude. Of course, it took me some time to start implementing certain changes, but I did it. With the help and support of my family, it made things easier and achievable.
After attending the training program, I was then invited to attend a Resilience program in Vail, along with the Summer Family Program. Each program has provided a stepping stone to achieve my goals of wellness, life satisfaction, and family bonding. The structure and planning of activities that the program provides is superb. It actually focuses on how veterans can become empowered, challenged, and confident in what they can do.
The great part about it is that they do it through recreational adaptive sports. I know for a fact it has given me confidence, self-esteem, and empowered me to tackle any challenge that comes my way with a positive attitude.
My wife and I no longer argue or talk about divorce. My kids and I no longer have a distant relationship. I am no longer an isolated stranger to my friends and peers.
Vail Veterans Program has helped me achieve my goals and so much more. I have come a long way, and I am beyond thankful to Cheryl Jensen, the Vail Vets team, and the Vail community for giving me the opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful family. Because even though it is a program, at the end, it becomes a concept of family, love, and companionship.
From where I was to where I find myself now, I am reaching for the stars. Now, I have a wonderful happy family. I am two semesters from completing and receiving my master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I couldn’t ask for more because I have been blessed with the proper resources, support, and assistance.
As I mentioned earlier, there is always a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel. For me, it was Vail Veterans Program, which is such a wonderful program that has changed my family’s life, my comrades’ lives, but most of all, my life.
Henry Escobedo was born in Guatemala and immigrated to the United States when he was 9. He joined the military at 19 and was deployed with the infantry during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. He quickly rose to Sergeant First Class.
Escobedo suffered a concussion after falling off his vehicle in Baghdad/Al Kufa-Najaf, Iraq. He left the Army but returned with a training regiment in the Active Guard Reserve. He was back in Iraq in 2010 to help train the Iraqi Army.
In between those two deployments, headaches and dry eyes began to plague him and his vision failed. He is now legally blind with minimal light perception, and is medically retired.
He and his family — wife Mayra who he met while serving in Iraq, son Jairo and daughter Jade — live in Texas in a home built by the organization Homes For Our Troops. Escobedo’s biographical information is from Homes For Our Troops.