In this episode, we talk with Stephen Padilla about how entrenching himself in the Veteran community has not only been beneficial for his wellbeing; but also shows that through therapy and community, there was a way out of a vicious circle of traumas. Steven a US Army OIF veteran who looked for IED's (roadside bombs) as well as aided in training the 12th Iraqi FER (Field Engineer Regiment) in 2009. He is also a Former Field Coordinator for the Western Region for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and is currently working to improve mental health care for veterans at the Get Headstrong Organization. Using his struggles as a motivator, he has had dinners with celebrities such as Kate Mara, Courtney Jai and has been invited to the Afghan Embassy and the White House to watch President Obama sign a Veterans Suicide bill into law.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA): iava.org/
IAVA Facebook: www.facebook.com/IAVA.org/
Branch: US Army Retired
MOS: 12Bravo (Combat Engineer)
Current position: Field Coordinator (Part-time), Military/ Veteran Consultant and Speaker
Steven Padilla is a San Diego native who joined the US Army in 2008 where he became a Combat Engineer. He would be stationed at Fort Campbell and later deployed to Kirkuk, Iraq in Jan 2009 where he and other soldiers from 511th Sapper EN CO would conduct route clearance, as well as train the 12th Iraqi FER (Field Engineer Regiment). During this deployment, Steven would be switched off mission 15 minutes prior to the mission start and one of his friends would take his spot. Later during that mission, Steven’s friend whom took his spot would trigger an IED, which would be Steven's triggering moment for survivor's guilt and PTSD.
Steven would later have struggles with alcohol, anger, anxiety, and depression that would affect his relationship with his wife. His actions would later make his wife threaten divorce if he doesn’t get help. Steven would go to the VA in 2012 after his retirement from the army due to a spinal injury and ask for help, this is where he is told he could not get help at the VA and it would be best for him to look elsewhere.
Steven would find a therapist that treats PTSD with Prolonged Exposure therapy. PE is a long and in depth process of multiple weekly visits as well as reliving those traumatic moments both in therapy and at home. It would take Steven several months to take the therapy seriously and when he did he saw a change in his life.