Bradley Thomas appreciates every moment he gets to spend with his older brother Brian. A few months ago, Bradley wondered if he would ever see Brian again.
Both brothers served in the U.S. Marine Corps, they were both deployed to Afghanistan at different times, and they both struggled with physical injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after returning home.
Bradley (artillery) found his way to Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) and is building a second career helping others. He now works with WWP’s Benefits Service, where he uses his insights to help other warriors navigate the VA’s process.
Brian (supply logistics) ended up living on the streets of Atlanta. After walking out of a hospital, he was missing for weeks before police called Bradley in Florida to let him know Brian had been found. Holding back tears, Bradley asked, “how do I get him home?”
Bradley had followed his older brother Brian’s footsteps and joined the Marine Corps after high school because he saw how his brother grew and matured during his first year of service. “I wanted to be part of that,” Bradley recalled.
Now Brian calls Bradley his “big little brother,” because Bradley shared his home to provide an environment where Brian can recover and start anew. Bradley’s experiences managing his own PTSD and working with other warriors at WWP gave him a new perspective on how to best help his brother.
“The first time we tried living in the same house again, I wanted my brother to either get a job or get out,” Bradley said. After working at WWP, he gained an understanding of his brother’s challenges with combat-related stress, and realized Brian needed to have PTSD addressed first. Finding him was not easy, but once he got his brother home, he worked to build a network of people to support both.
In addition to sharing community support and a safe home, Christmas 2018 was the first holiday season they shared together since childhood. “It had been a while since we spent Christmas together as a family,” Brian said. “It was great to share time together in a positive moment.”
“With the help of Wounded Warrior Project, things have been going great,” Brian said. He found work through WWP’s career counseling. He also received PTSD treatment through WWP’s Warrior Care Network® and multi-day mental health workshops, designed to give injured veterans the tools to manage combat stress.
“I always had my brother growing up, through good and hard times,” Bradley said. “Brian has already met all my hopes for him. A year ago, this wasn’t possible, so moving forward, the sky is truly the limit. I couldn’t hope for anything more.”
“Most people don’t know another human being for as long as they know their brother or sister,” Bradley added. “He is now doing better for himself, but I want him to know that I’ll always be here for him.”
In a WWP survey of the wounded warriors it serves, more than half of survey respondents (52.6 percent) expressed they talk with fellow veterans to address their mental health concerns.
More than a few would make the case that having a sibling to talk to can be just as helpful.
To learn more about how WWP connects warriors to build strength through community, visit https://wwp.news/GetConnected.
Rob Louis – Public Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org, 904.627.0432.
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: https://newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org.