Meet the Veterans – 4 of 6

suzanne

My name is Suzanne and I am 51 years old. I have four children 29, 27, 12, and 10, I will be a first time Grandma in August.
I joined the Marine Corps when I was 19 years old, I picked the Marines because I wanted to do something physically and mentally challenging.
On my 20th birthday I was sexually assaulted by four Marines.
I reported the assault but was not taken seriously by the investigative service.
This started a lifetime of nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, anger, depression, but mostly fear. I have been in therapy now for almost 5 years and about 6 months ago I was finally able to tell my story without fear.
I am always looking for retreats and experiences to help with PTSD, that’s how I found VOC. I have always liked the idea of putting on boots and a backpack and just walking and reflecting on myself and my life. I have lived most of my life in fear and I am hoping that this experience will help put this behind me or in the least not be controlled by it. I am currently enrolled in a meditation certification program and I am hoping to help other Veterans with PTSD.

Meet the Veterans – 3 of 6

 

Things have not been easy the last few years.

It’s been a constant struggle for me after getting medically discharged from the Army. I thought that maybe as more time went by it would get easier and that I would just be able to ride this out, but things started to get worse and so did the stress and anxiety.

I realize that I need to make a change in my life and reach out for help as well. It’s really exciting to see what veterans on the Camino is doing and reading about the experience and testimonies of the previous veterans to hike the Camino has been really inspiring.

I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to participate in this year’s upcoming hike with Veterans on the Camino. Thanks to everyone who has helped support and put veterans on the Camino!

Peace,

Jude

Meet the Veterans – 2 of 6

louis

Hi, I’m Louis. I joined the army in 1992 and got deployed to the former Yugoslavia as part of UNPROFOR. That period changed my life a lot, once home I just didn’t feel like I still fitted in.
I returned to the mission working for one of the military contractors and stayed until the end of the war in 1996. A lot happened during that time. Many great things but also a lot that got burned into my eyes. I wasn’t ready to come home, to be honest I wasn’t ready for life anymore. I came close to losing it all together.
Once home I started working a lot. Mostly short-term assignments as I was unstable really. I needed the time between these assignments to recharge. Like walking life on a string, just trying to keep in balance all the time. I tried to cope for many years, but things went downhill. I was eventually diagnosed with PTSD and received therapy from a variety of organizations including the army.
In the end things got worse. The therapy sent me back to war more and more, I started having flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety. The medication didn’t have an effect on me other than causing major depression. Again, I nearly lost everything not having the power anymore to fight.
They stopped treatment and the medication. I slowly started picking up the pieces again and I managed somehow, with the support of great friends that once stood at my side, and still do.
I’m trying, it’s getting better, but I have some distance to overcome still.
I applied for Veterans on the Camino and was selected. It will be a challenge, but I will be there with others who understand my struggle. It will be an honor to walk with them and to get to know how they continued with life. I look forward learning from them and hopefully it will lead to more peace in all our lives.

Spring 2019 Camino is open for applications

 

Starting 1 October 2018 Veterans on the Camino (VOC), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, will be accepting applications for participation in the Spring 2019 Camino.
In the beginning of April 2019, the selected Veterans will link up and depart from Saint Jean Pied du Port, France to walk the 550-mile Camino de Santiago all the way to the western most point of Spain in Finisterre. This journey will take approximately 35 days to walk, factor in travel days and you can expect to return around 15 May.
If selected to participate, VOC will provide your backpack and boots, all travel to and from your home, and a $30.00 USD daily perdiem to cover food and lodging along “The Way.”
To qualify you must:
– Be a military Veteran from any coalition nation
– Completely and legibly fill out the application form for consideration by the selection committee
– Have a valid passport or applicable Identification card to permit travel to the EU
– Understand that this is not a vacation, walking 550 miles is not an easy endeavor
– Have 40 days available to participate
– Be able to converse in basic English
If you meet this criterion and would like to apply, email VOC using the “Contact” tab on this website. An application form will be emailed to you.
Applications will be accepted via mail or email until 2400 EST, 15 December 2018.
An independent selection committee will evaluate all applications and advise the VOC board of directors which applicants they recommend for participation.
Selected participants will be notified by 7 January 2019.

Spring 2019 Camino announcement

camino_de_santiago_route_map

In just a few weeks, Veterans on the Camino will be accepting applications for the next pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella, Spain.

We are seeking any coalition Veteran interested in making this life altering journey on the ancient “Camino de Santiago.”  This journey is a transformation – not a vacation.

To qualify you must:
1. Completely fill out the application form that will be provided by VOC
2. Provide a DD214 (with SSN blacked out) or equivalent if you served with other than US forces
3. Be able to clear your schedule from 1 April 2019 until 15 May 2019
4. Have a valid passport (or equivalent if from another EU country)

The applications will be accepted from 1 October 2018 until 15 December 2018 and the selection results will be publicized in early January.

If selected, we will conduct a phone interview and equip you with a backpack and boots to begin your preparations before linking up in early April for this 550 mile walk across northwestern Spain.

In addition to the boots and backpack, VOC will pay all travel to and from the Camino and will provide $30 USD per day to cover food and albergue costs while on the Camino.

Buen Camino,
Brad Genereux