I served overseas during the first Gulf War. As a child, I did not experience much racism or discrimination – I grew up in a diverse neighborhood and around people who saw one another for who they were, not what color they were. Unfortunately, this was not my experience in the armed forces. It became clear to me very quickly that the color of my skin affected how people treated me. This was hard enough on a day-to-day basis, but became a real obstacle when I needed to return home because of a death in my family.
Today there are some support services in place for veterans after they have completed their tours of duty. When I was serving, this was not true. I suffered from PTSD but did not understand what was happening. I had trouble reconnecting with friends and family, and I struggled to find a job.
In the years since, I have found a good job, developed positive relationships, and gained some perspective on my experiences in and out of the military. But I will never forget those difficult times.