I got out of the Air Force after serving 26 months of active duty. I was stationed overseas, so I was not just transitioning to civilian life; I was transitioning back to the U.S. I had a major culture shock when I got home and found that just going to the grocery store was challenging. People I knew would come running up to me to say hello. Having PTSD made these instances hard to handle.
I quickly found that I had all the time in the world, but not a lot of money or resources. I was too stressed out to work and was trying to get my medical matters taken care of. People would always ask me, “What do you do?” I didn’t know how to answer.
In 2011, I found the Mission Continues. It was the same day I was laid off for the second time in eighteen months. I checked out the website and realized right then and there I had to apply. I wanted a challenge and a chance to serve again. I needed the fellowship because all of the extra time and depression had caused me to hit rock bottom.
I did my fellowship at the Rescue Mission in Roanoke. The Rescue Mission (often known as “The Mission”) is the only emergency homeless shelter in the Roanoke Valley. Each night more than 300 plus men, women, and children will come to see a safe place to sleep and eat a warm meal. Often, we are the last place people turn to in times of crisis and we welcome them with open arms. Serving at the mission opened my eyes to the needs of our society and made me realize that although I am disabled, I am still very ABLE and willing to continue my service here at home.
Sarah Bonner served two years in the United States Air Force. She has served as a Fellow at the Mission Continues with the Rescue Mission in Roanoke Valley, Virginia.