At first, Spec. Anthony McNeil said he didn’t realize there was
anything wrong with him. In the Army, he worked a desk job, as a human
resources specialist. In Iraq, he traded his desk for a weapon on top of
a humvee and was tasked to be a gunner.
"It’s cool when you’re training, but the real thing, it’s not fun,” he said.
base was hit repeatedly with mortar rounds. Soon, the mental strain of
the constant threat of danger overtook his body. He started having
nightmares, bursts of anger and he was unable to concentrate at work.
mental health counselor diagnosed Anthony with depression and PTS.
Soon after, Anthony said he attempted suicide and intended to use his
Army issue M-16. His commanders, however, had been watching him closely
and disarmed the weapon without his knowledge. That move saved his life.
now, paranoia had set in for Anthony and doctors put him on
several medications and sent him home. There, Anthony said he tried to
self-medicate, but the severity of his condition caught up with him. He
was placed in psychiatric units at several hospitals. Doctors upped the
number of medications he took. He was medically discharged from the
the Army, Anthony had a hard time readjusting. Three employers
fired him after learning of his mental health issues. Soon, he could no
longer afford the basic necessities for his family.
The Army Homefront Fund gave the McNeil family the means to survive when they had nothing left.
through Operation Homefront, the
local chapter of the nonprofit provided the family with groceries,
gas money and helped pay their past due bills. Now, the McNeils
live in the Operation Homefront Village in San Antonio, which provides a
free place to live for Wounded Warriors and their families as they
transition back to civilian life as a result of their injuries.
There, Anthony said, the family are rebuilding their lives.
great. They understand your situation there,” he said. “It’s not like
they put you in a room and point a finger at you and judge you. They
Anthony said the family attends financial and
marriage counseling sessions offered at the Village. With Operation
Homefront’s help, his wife Jessica has been able to return to work and
Anthony has begun college courses.
“Operation Homefront has taken the stress off of us and given us the
opportunity to get things back on track,” Anthony said. “This has helped
us a lot. It’s almost like a dream.”