By Dana Dreckman — WWP Talk Director, Wounded Warrior Project
After 30 years in the Army, Tonya Oxendine retired with the highest enlisted rank as command sergeant major. It was only after she retired that her life started to unravel. She faced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety, even after securing a promising new career on the civilian side.
“I was struggling with my mental health and had suicidal thoughts regularly,” Tonya said.
Asking for help was not a skill Tonya was encouraged to use often, especially after ascending to a leadership position in the Army. It was difficult for her to ask for help even when she knew it was a sign of strength, not weakness. Tonya ultimately found strength in her deep sense of duty and accountability to others.
“There was a time when I did not want to live,” Tonya said. “But then I realized I was accountable to my sons. I was also accountable to my mental health professionals who had been working with me.”
She eventually found WWP Talk, a free mental health phone support line provided by Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). The program provides wounded veterans with free emotional support and tools to help them set and achieve goals.
Tonya started talking with a teammate from WWP Talk and participated in other WWP mental, physical, and financial health programs.
Through WWP Talk especially, Tonya realized how important it is to take care of herself for her own sake. “The truth was, at the time, I didn’t think that I mattered.”
About Wounded Warrior Project
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.