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By Jamie Warner – 

“Finally, I came to a point where no more medicine, doctors, or any methods could help me.”

Monterey County Sheriff’s Deputy Karl Schumacher sat down with me a few months ago to talk about his involvement with Mighty Oaks Warrior Programs and the circumstances that led him to attending our Men’s Legacy Program in August of 2017. Like so many who come through the Legacy Program, Karl’s circumstances, experiences, and decisions had put him on a dark path of destructive behavior and isolation.

“I initially came to Mighty Oaks as what I believed was a decent man who knew God and was working hard on recovery for myself and my family. I am a recovering alcoholic and addict. I have PTS and other injuries I have been battling for years. Finally, I came to a point where no more medicine, doctors, or any methods could help me. I could not live any longer going through this myself, with my family and manhood in decline and my career crumbling from the demons inside me. I looked at Mighty Oaks as my last chance.”

Though, like many alumni before Karl, he wasn’t exactly breaking down our door at SkyRose Ranch to get in. Often times, there is a reluctance to attend, for any number of reasons. His boss, Sheriff Steve Bernal, had contacted me on Karl’s behalf and requested a spot in an upcoming class. Sheriff Bernal told me in a phone conversation a little about Karl’s situation and that Karl had promised the Sheriff he would call me about the program. It took Karl some time, but he ultimately kept his word to his boss and called me and asked many questions trying to get a feel for what he was getting himself into. The reluctance I mentioned often stems from a growing cynicism our Warriors feel about yet another program or treatment in the long list of unsuccessful attempts to reclaim their lives. They often fight for so long and feel so alone in the fight that they have little, if any, hope of anything working. But Karl, obviously, did attend and shared with me how that decision has impacted his life.

“An overall theme I misunderstood and believed was that I was alone with nobody to help me or understand my battles. I was shown what a true legacy looks like and what it means to be a real man. Examples, experience, and teaching from the staff had a dramatic impact on me. That, combined with fellowship of like-minded men, brutal honesty all around, and education for men like me, proved to be a lifesaver.
“Prior to leaving the ranch, I got a strong feeling to take action. It was unlike any other desire or ambition or goal I have ever had. Even my commitment to law enforcement and always going above and beyond was not as strong as the feeling I received to return and start the Leadership Training and serve others. I was directed, and allowed, by God to pursue this as my most passionate and purposeful calling.”

It’s so encouraging as a staff to see this kind of life transformation take place. Karl returned for Phase 1 Leadership training the next month and is continuing to progress through the training, which is great, but what about those changes he was so excited about? Did they stick? Well, I checked in with Karl
shortly after the New Year, and he let me know that he continues to “get more comfortable with church and seeing what God wants daily: loving Him and not being so selfish and materialistic.” He said he studies his Bible every day. But the most encouraging part of that conversation was when he closed with:

“Funny how whenever I’m on hard times, I think about God, then look and remember that it seems the Bible has the answers to all my questions/problems. I never thought that before. It seems it’s all in there. Gets me through the day.”