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Subject Matter Expert
Dan Miller says he doesn’t see his life experiences as being his story. He prefers to call it his history. “We are all a product of our own personal histories,” says Dan. “The first step in really understanding a person or a subject is to understand the truth behind that history.”
Dan’s history began in Chicago, Illinois, and for as long as he can remember, he wanted to be in the military. Throughout his military career with the U.S. Marine Corps, Dan served in many roles and deployed numerous times, including Desert Storm and twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. When he retired in May 2015, he had given 29 years of service to his country – five years on active duty and 24 years as a reservist. He also worked as a police officer for 21 years and retired from the force in June 2015.
Dan will be the first to tell you that he loved serving in the Marines and fighting for his country, but the years took their toll.
“When you see the destruction, the lives lost, the sacrifices, and the suffering, it changes you. But when it was happening, I didn’t have time to process it. So I buried it. I had to, because there was always the next mission, the next rocket or improvised explosive device (IED) the next danger to prevent or avoid. Those experiences can’t stay buried forever.”
After his retirement, doctors diagnosed Dan with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The urge to quit, which he hadn’t fought since high school, once more entered Dan’s mind and he contemplated ending his life. Amazingly, a brochure for Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) interrupted his suicide attempt.
“It was on the seat beside me and on the cover was a picture of a warrior who had lost his legs; yet, he was still working out in a gym. If he could do that, how could I give up? I wasn’t going to deny my problems anymore. I called WWP, and fast forward to today – they’ve helped me keep my family together and continue to make my history.”
Dan’s message to his fellow warriors is a message of hope: “I will pick you up and put you on my shoulder. We will move forward together. If I begin to falter, another veteran will come along and help us both. Together we will reach our place of love and safety. Because we are and always will be family.”