My History of Service on this Veterans Day

John C. Riley – Graphic Designer and blog publisher for HereNOW Help

My name is John Riley and my MOS while in the military was Operation Specialist Second Class, I am a recovering Alcoholic and live with a mental illness but I am getting the treatment I need. So many Veterans deny they have issues and try to bottle it up and believe that they can handle it. Some Veterans turn to alcohol or drugs to cope and we lose so many of my brothers and sisters and I believe we should remember them and the service they volunteered for to serve our country on this Veterans Day. 

Today brings up memories of myself and memories of my family who served and I can’t forget my second family member that were the people I served with. I was compelled to serve my country after the USS Cole bombing which was a suicide attack by the terrorist group al-Qaeda against the guided missile destroyer of the United States Navy, on 12 October 2000, while she was being refueled in Yemen’s Aden harbor. In my mind I also wanted to better myself because I saw that I was on a road to nowhere and had an early drinking problem. In addition to my drinking problem my mother, Dottie Riley, passed away because of Cirrhosis which is a scarring (fibrosis) of the liver caused by long-term liver damage. The scar tissue prevents the liver working properly. To put it bluntly, my mother drank herself to death. My family on my mother’s side has addiction problems and it was not until she died that I decided to clean myself up and make me a better person than I was, I believed I could do better. Just my luck that I enlisted in January 2001 and 9 months later 9/11 happened on our way back from my first deployment to the Middle East.

USS Constellation CV-64

I served 7 years and completed 3 deployments, one of which was participating in the war in Iraq advising pilots where to strike targets, navigating the waters, radar sweeping, and communications. There were good times and bad times and it was during my enlistment that I was diagnosed with a mental illness and how it affected my service especially after a close uncle of mine who served in the Army committed suicide after serving his 20 years and I did not take it that well and I had to reevaluate my future in the military.  

I also have a family history of tradition serving in each war in Modern US History. At least one person from my family was in World War I, II, Korean War, Vietnam, Gulf War, and now me during the Iraq War.

Left my Uncle Frank Casey – US Navy, middle my Grandfather Walter Gillis – US Navy, right is my Great Grandfather Angus R. Gillis- US Army)

I am proud of what I have done and this is another chapter in my book of life, it feels literally like I lived a completely different life because I went to school, met my future wife, bought a house thanks to the VA, have a good job, and now I have a son. None of these things I have now I believed I would ever have and I am grateful to the VA for providing me with all these resources to buy a house, go to school for free, and have the opportunity to retire. The VA gets a bad rap for letting down Veterans and I wish that every VA hospital and Administration was as good to all Veterans like they were to me.

Have a blessed weekend, thank you very much.  


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