‘Facing Stigma’ with William B.

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“I always knew I wanted to be in the military. I grew up hunting and fishing and being a boy scout so I was already going down that road. It really solidified when a pilot came to camp one year and told us about Navy SEALs. This was way before there were movies or books about SEALs, but I knew I wanted to be a part of an elite force after he spoke to us. I ended up joining the late entry program and I left for bootcamp in 1992 when I was in 11th grade. From that day forward, I became a Navy SEAL over a 26 year career. I would deploy here and there pre-9/11, but after that day I went on seven different combat deployments. Some deployments had zero kinetic operations, while others had quite a bit. Whether it was with the guys in Fallujah or some of the guys in Baghdad, I tried to get out in the field every chance I could. As a SEAL you train to do really kinetic operations and we were in our share of gun fights; however, there’s another side of the job where you’re doing tribal engagement, drinking tea with the local warlord, or going to city council meetings. There’s a balance of being politically correct, but also taking the fight to the enemy. We were trying to give the country back to the people and empower them. The hard part as a leader is convincing the guys in the platoons that sometimes you have to play the game in order to find more bad guys. You get used to being the hammer looking for a nail, but there’s this other element that you have to add in to strike a balance. No matter what kind of deployment it is, you have to be on all the time. If you become complacent at any moment, that’s when bad stuff happens. I started realizing I wasn’t able to turn it off in my everyday life and that’s when I knew I was dealing with some stuff.

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I’d spent my entire adult life and really my entire known life in the military on SEAL teams. I had this family that took care of me and I relied on, but as soon as I walked out the door, I no longer had that support network I was used to in my life. After I retired, I felt lost and that I was missing a sense of purpose. I had a hard time sleeping and turning things off. I got mental health treatment which helped, but CBD also helped me to deal with some of the issues I was experiencing. I’ve been a big advocate for veterans reaching out to get help regardless of what injuries they’ve sustained. Whether physical, mental or emotional, I think it’s important that we shed our ego and admit we’re struggling. That was a major reason why I decided to start my own CBD company called Naked Warrior Recovery. I wanted to make an impact and help veterans and first responders recover in the way I was able to. I named the company after the Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs) from WWII because they became known as the Naked Warriors after diving with just a pair of shorts, a mask, and fins. The meaning behind Naked Warrior Recovery is that we all wear this invisible armor to protect us, but at some point we have to take that armor off and expose ourselves to get the healing and treatment that we need. I’ve given my life to service and my job has always been to serve so even in the next chapter of life I’m still focused on finding ways to help others.”

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Healing the hidden wounds of war

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