One of the most striking things about Reed’s story is that it is completely authentic. He has had some low lows and high highs but he also shared about the moments of uncertainty and doubt as he figured it all out.
If you told Reed Hastey that when he became a Combat Engineer in the Army that one day he would end up in a Psyche Ward (several times) he would have never believed you. But after spending a lot of time on the highway of a country at war as an engineer of a D-9 Armored Bulldozer, the horrors of war had stamped its mark on him, waging war on his soul. Reed came back from Iraq a different man than when he went.
The very resiliency he learned in training seemed impossible to apply to reconciling his life at war to life at home. He came back to a wife and new baby daughter that he had never met. However, he just couldn’t turn himself back on. He remembers the experience of trying to reintegrate into his family, “I came back to a daughter that didn’t know me and I wasn’t equipped to build a relationship with a tiny person.”
Feeling that he no longer had a purpose and that he was in the way, Reed began to self-destruct. He had trouble holding down a job. Eventually, he got a divorce and his Ex was awarded full custody because he was in no place to care for a child. Reed went along with the court’s decision with no resistance. Reed remembers, “I was in no place to challenge the ruling. I thought unplugging was the right move for all of us.”
Reed tried to recover purpose for his life by going back to school but it didn’t work. He felt he had nothing in common with the other students after all he had experienced. He started having panic attacks. In order to keep the panic attacks under control he started to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. When his behavior got extreme his ex would take him into the VA hospital and tell the triage nurse he needed help. They would adjust his meds, monitor him and let him go. They offered outpatient counseling but it didn’t seem to help relieve his pain.
Fortunately, Reed met a Marine vet who invited him to a Jiu Jitsu class. He found great relief in these classes and his stress levels reduced. While at the studio a man named Chad Robichaux came teach a seminar. Reed attended and received an invitation to come to a Mighty Oaks Warriors Men’s Program. It took two years for Reed to get over his fear of having a panic attack on the plane and eventually attend.
Reed recalled his arrival to the Men’s Program, “I didn’t know what to expect but it was challenging right from the beginning. It was an authentic and transparent experience that I hadn’t had before.”
Reed had a hard time engaging with the program at first. He was emotionally numb and still in bondage from the pains of his past. He didn’t want to talk about what happened in Iraq and he certainly didn’t want to talk about his role in what had gotten him in the situation he was in.
Reed told us, “I wanted the path of least resistance-victimhood. I wanted to ask “why” not “what am I going to do now”.
The week went on and Reed found an instructor that he opened up to. As Reed discussed his pain, he also brought up his faith and the fact that he had walked away from God long ago. It was easier to walk away from his faith because if he didn’t believe, he didn’t have to be accountable.
But God was pulling on Reed’s heart that week and Reed redirected his life to Christ and was baptized. He graduated new in Christ but not completely new in other ways. He still felt closed and unsure. He was still processing how he could go home and make the changes he learned at the Mighty Oaks Program. Reed stayed in touch with Chad and they decided he should come back for a second week at the ranch. It was during this time at Mighty Oaks that Reed let down his walls and was able to really learn the tools Mighty Oaks Programs provides.
Reed has gone back to Mighty Oaks several times, but now as a Team Leader. He now teaches and coaches other men through the program. Reed admits that he still learns something each time he goes back, even as a teacher. As the new program attendees make their own revelations he is able to witness them and apply them to his own life.
As with all program graduates we interviewed we asked Reed what he thought the secret sauce was behind Mighty Oaks Warrior Programs. Here is what he said:
“The program is centered on faith which is a missing ingredient in resiliency powered by self. All of the program instructors are combat vets and completely relatable. And SkyRose Ranch, it’s beauty is amazing and every detail is thought out. It makes you feel overwhelmed that someone would go to all that trouble just for you.”
Watch Reed’s full story as he tells it on video HERE and consider making a donation to help other veterans like him.