Upstate Warrior Solution
Nicole can describe coming out of the service in one word: Overwhelming.
Nicole served in the Navy for 24 years and retired as a Master at Arms. Nicole’s last tour was in Guantanamo Bay, at one of the high-level detainee camps, where she worked as an Evidence Custodian. Nicole’s mission was kept top secret and she is very limited to what she can say about it other than it was “a life-changing experience.”
“When I got out of the service it was overwhelming to me because you spend so much time thinking about how I want to complete this,” Nicole says. “And, then when you’re faced with it all of the sudden, you’ve reached the top of this hill, and you’re not prepared for what’s down the other side. It’s just a free-fall.”
Nicole’s feelings are quite common. She was trained to be part of a world that is exclusive unto itself, and coming out of that world is often like entering an alien landscape. “It took me a while to make that transition, because the Navy was all that I knew, and that’s what I trusted,” Nicole says. “And in the back of my mind, I always thought it was going to be there. And they were like, okay, you’re no longer a part of this organization. And that was a very big transition for me.”
Nicole became reclusive, to the point where she spent almost six months inside her home. “I didn’t want to go out in public,” she says. “I didn’t want to go to the grocery store. And I knew I had to go back to work, and I had to get on my feet, but it was overwhelming.” But despite all of the training and work experience Nicole gained during her time in the Navy she had a difficult time finding work when she reentered civilian life. Then, through the preacher at her mother’s church in North Greenville, Nicole was introduced to Upstate Warrior Solution. The team asked Nicole for her resume and connected her with a job within two weeks. With a new job and new confidence, Nicole was soon eager to give back to the community. She attended a Peer Support Specialist training course with UWS and is now “on-call” as a peer mentor volunteer to share her experience and offer perspective and empathy to others struggling with the return to civilian life.
“I’m just grateful that Upstate Warrior Solution has taken the time to help the people that are right here in the Upstate,” Nicole says. “It’s very hard to admit that you can’t figure things out on your own. It’s a big issue. I’m just thankful, on many levels, that there was an organization that was willing to help me get my feet back under me.”