Allan Sweat continues treatment for his injuries at the “Share Military Initiative” at Atlanta’s Shepherd Center.
The program has more than 700 success stories for treating Veterans with TBI Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and a record of zero suicides.
Sweat who is 34, says the Share center has changed his life. Sweat who lives in Locust Grove, was injured in Iraq back in 2007 by multiple I-E-D blasts. He has a spinal injury and back pain, as well as TBI and PTSD.
Sweat tells WSB he was in a dark place and “going down a rabbit hole,” when his wife urged him to get help. “I couldn’t spend time by myself, all day, every day, I was going down a rabbit hole, dealing with my thoughts about what I’ve been through, and having remorse and anger. I became a recluse, I realized I needed help and that I needed to pull myself out of this, I need to find a source.” That source, the non-profit Share Initiative which operates on a yearly budget of almost $2 million dollars.
During Sweats 10 weeks of treatment so far, a Recreational Therapist who knew Sweat loved listening to music, everything from classic rock to Frank Sinatra, suggested he try playing an instrument. He started with the Guitar but ended up learning to play the Ukulele. “I’m still not that good, but I’m figuring it out, and it’s been one of those things that’s helped a lot, it’s my therapy, it relaxes me, this thing is amazing, I take it everywhere I go, it stays in my truck.”
Sweat smiles and says his wife gets annoyed but jokes with him saying “are you ever going to put that thing down? and I say “no,” it’s part of me now. It lives in my hands.” Sweat tells WSB “I’m proud of the progress I’ve made with it, it’s definitely helped.”
Sweat says his Pride originally prevented him from finding treatment. “Some guys who get out of the military, we sit at home, and we don’t know what to do with ourselves, for me Pride was a big issue, here we are, we wear a uniform every day, you have this character about yourself when you serve, you are a part of something, then when all that’s gone you still carry yourself like that, for me that’s why it took so long for me to reach out and get help.”
Sweat has also taken up Yoga. Something he never thought he’d do but Sweat admits “it relieves the pain.” As for Memorial Day, Sweat tells WSB “I love this Country, I love the people here, and I’m proud to be an American. To all those Veterans who have served, Thank You for your Service and if you are questioning yourself, and think you need some help, don’t be too scared or too prideful to reach out, and say ‘hey, I need some help.”
To donate to the Share Military Initiative, go to Shepherd.org