Age: 54 | Washington, D.C.
U.S. Army, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, 2002-2006
Director, Veterans Writing Project
With a loaded pistol by this side, Ron Capps planned on taking his life. But a phone call interrupted him in the act. Ron was in the middle of Darfur taking in the destruction and poverty around him—a scene that became all too familiar during his 25 years of service in the U.S. Army whisked him through three wars and three continents.
In 1983, Ron began his career in the Virginia Army National Guard, and throughout the next two decades he worked in military and human intelligence. During that time, he joined the Defense Intelligence Agency as a reserve Foreign Area Officer. For the next several years of his life, Ron deployed to some of the most inhospitable places in the world—from Afghanistan, Sudan, Chad, and Darfur.
With no downtime between deployments and the psychological pressures of his job, the operation tempo eventually took its toll. In 2006, at his request, Ron was medevaced from Darfur back to the states. He received counseling and adopted a rescue dog named Harry. There were days Ron would just sit at home with Harry behind locked doors, too scared to go outside. Eventually, he came around with the help of Harry and another mode of therapy—writing. In 2011, he founded Veterans Writing Project
, which gives Veterans and service members the skills to tell their own stories—and help them find a way to understand and share their experiences.
“What really worked for me was writing, and I’ve seen it work for those who’ve come through one of our workshops,” Ron said. “For me, it was about exposing those traumatic memories again and again until I could control them, until they couldn’t scare me anymore.”
Watch Ron's video