We All Need Someone to Lean On
Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain, we all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow
Please, swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won’t let show
“Lean on Me” – Bill Withers
Pride, it’s something we all possess, but if not properly handled, can consume us. It’s never a bad thing to be full of pride, until it is. When pride becomes an obstacle to success, it no longer assists us and instead, can actually become a detrimental factor to ourselves as well as others.
Emanuel joined the Army in 2010 with the intent of making a career out of it. He loved everything about it: service to country, sense of purpose, and serving alongside his brothers and sisters. Most of all, he was proud of what he was and how far he had come. Shortly after completing boot camp, he went on to training school where he would learn how to become a mechanic, working on vehicles like the Humvee and Medium Tactical Vehicle (MTV) Wrecker.
Emanuel was cruising along when life, as it always does, threw him a curveball. While in his training school, his wife was diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease. Stuck in school, with very little information or support as to what to do, he found himself between a rock and a hard place. As much as he loved the Army, his love for his wife meant so much more. He learned he was to be deployed to South Korea as a 91B (Mechanic) with the 1st and 15th Field Artillery Battalion attached to Golf Company. When deployed to South Korea, it is uncommon to allow family members to relocate with the service members. But, in some special circumstances, such as the one Emanuel and his wife found themselves in, the Army made an exception. They allowed the couple to move as one to South Korea and his wife immediately began to seek medical treatment to somehow extend her life expectancy. The doctors overseas tried everything they could, ultimately providing her with medication that did nothing more than allow her to get by to a point. But, it never truly fixed the overall problem so her situation began to deteriorate. In the meantime, Emanuel was forced to split his time between caring for her and fulfilling his obligation to the Army. Internally, it was tearing him apart.
Once his tour in South Korea came to an end, he was stationed stateside in Ft. Bragg, NC with the 525 Battlefield Surveillance Brigade (BFSB) which was attached to 319th Company. It was here that his wife learned that the treatments she was receiving did nothing more than extend her life expectancy. In fact, she found that many of her critical levels were low. The doctors immediately began giving her dialysis treatments but, for those that know about this kind of treatment, it’s not a long term solution and she was in need of full time care. It was at this point Emanuel had to make another hard decision – give up his dream of making the Army a career or take care of his beloved wife. For some that are career-oriented, a decision such as this may seem hard. But, for Emanuel, his love for his wife ran deep and it only took a split second before he made the decision to leave the Army to take care of the love of his life.
Leaving the Army was especially hard for Emanuel. The service provided him with very little support during the transition from the military to the civilian world. He initially went on unemployment until he found a suitable job to support his family. Unfortunately, many employers had very little sympathy when it came to his family situation. Shortly after finding employment, due to having to take off to care for his wife, the companies that hired him would fire him because he wasn’t able to work the hours they needed. This dreadful cycle of employment followed by unemployment seemed like it would never end. He joined the Army Reserves in hopes of becoming an active-duty service member again but the Army said it wasn’t in the cards. He even started looking into some organizations that provided temporary loans to service members, but soon found out that they only focused on active duty members, not reservists or veterans. It was coming to a point where he was forced to stop paying bills and was threatened with homelessness. He was desperate but didn’t know where to turn and all was beginning to seem lost.
Feeling cornered, he did what the military taught him best – never give up and keep fighting the good fight. He recalled an organization he first learned about when he played League of Legends. At the time, Emanuel was actively engaged in playing the game on a near daily basis. One day, he heard of an event going on called the “8-Bit Salute” where players would live-stream their gaming and others would donate to the cause. As soon as Emanuel heard about it, he was hooked. As a former military member and active gamer, he looked into the organization who was hosting these events – Operation Supply Drop. Upon reading more into what OSD was trying to accomplish, Emanuel knew that some of his money would best be spent supporting such a worthy cause. So, from that moment forward, whenever he heard about an 8-Bit event, he donated a small sum to the cause – to help those that have sacrificed so much to help us.
Years later, wondering what options he had left and how he was going to be able to support his family, Emanuel looked deep within himself and determined that now was the time to swallow his pride. Since leaving the service, he hadn’t reached out to anyone for support. He was full of pride and always thought he was going to be able to pull himself out of his horrible situation. When things were down, he always saw the light, regardless of how dim it was. But that light was slowly starting to fade away and his pride wasn’t doing much to help.
One day in November 2015, Emanuel made the decision to overcome his pride and ask someone for help. He went to Twitter and reached out to the organization that he donated to. Knowing they supported veterans, he sent out a tweet asking for help, not really knowing what support he would get. He really didn’t expect much, thinking that they would maybe send a video game care package or something of the sort. So he was pleasantly surprised when he received a quick response back asking how they could help.
Upon hearing about Emanuel’s situation, the team at OSD knew they had to help. A service member who had a string of very bad luck needed their support and they had the resources to do it. Knowing the holiday season was coming soon, they provided some financial aid to ensure his family enjoyed the holidays. In the meantime, they reached out to their network of contacts and resources to see what assistance could be provided. Within a week, Emanuel was contacted by several veteran’s organizations that specialize in job support and placement. And it was only a matter of time until a company by the name of Electrical Wholesalers, located in his hometown of Waterbury, CT, offered him a job which he will be starting in the very near future.
A simple call for help resulted in a complete 180 for Emanuel. He went from desperation to an offer of full time employment (despite his family situation), bills paid, and, with a little bit of good luck, good health for his wife. A few weeks ago, even though he wasn’t a match to donate a kidney to his wife, Emanuel was notified that if he donated one of his kidneys to someone in need, his wife would receive one in return. It took very little for him to agree and he’s now scheduled to provide someone in need with a kidney and his wife will receive one the same day. After years of worrying and despair, it now looks like things may finally be looking up for Emanuel and his family.
With fortune finally on his side, Emanuel is trying to give back. Within his reserve unit, he is trying to instill the same sense of support that OSD provided him. Recently, a fellow service member passed away so he’s working with the command to bring the unit together and provide resources to the family of the fallen during their time of need. When he’s not working with his reserve unit, he’s constantly reaching out to fellow service members and veterans to inform them of the resources that OSD has to provide them. In essence, he’s trying to help those just like him.
Emanuel’s advice to others that find themselves in similar situations is simple. “Don’t be scared to ask,” he states. The military instills a very strong sense of pride in oneself. In many cases this is a good thing. But when things get rough and help is needed, you need to realize that pride is just getting in the way. You need to ask for help. There are so many people and organizations out there ready and willing to assist you, so don’t feel guilty or ashamed. If you’re suffering from PTSD, looking for financial or job assistance, or just need someone to talk to, don’t be afraid to ask. We’re here to help.