For 17 years, Jaime Medina was a special operations combat veteran. He was the guy at the tip of the spear chasing the fight with deployment after deployment, raining down American airpower on the enemies of our nation. “The responsibility was immense and I was good at my job. I loved the non-stop operations tempo my unit operated in,” Jaime says. While serving, Jaime went on six combat deployments and survived over 124 firefights, all while making the calls for precision airstrikes amid the chaos.
Then it stopped. A forced medical discharge sent Jaime into a spiraling depression. He was stripped of the job he’d let become his identity, and in the years to come, Jaime struggled with who he was outside of the military. For four years, shame consumed him and Jaime became isolated and self-destructive, turning to alcohol and other substances to self-medicate while quickly damaging relationships with family and friends and eventually losing his job. “I did not want to live and my actions spoke to that,” he says.
When Jaime’s ex-wife threatened to stop contact between Jaime and his son, Jaime sought help. With the assistance of The Veterans Affairs Administration, Jaime learned about a lot of neglected injuries he’d been suppressing over the years including multiple brain injuries that left him with constant migraines, degenerated disks in his back as a result of close proximity to explosions, and severe PTSD.
After Jaime got “fixed,” as he calls it, he felt a calling to help others in his position. He believed it was his duty to share his experience with other veterans facing tough times at home. That partnered with news that the nation’s largest veteran’s organization was blowing money on lavish parties in Las Vegas, led Jaime to start his own nonprofit, one that, in his opinion, would do better.
“I started sharing my story and working with local veterans,” Jaime says. He organized efforts to make a local vet’s home ADA compliant after he lost his legs, he became a mentor at Veteran Treatment Court, and he started a veteran crisis line.
FIX’D is free for anyone who has served in the U.S. military, regardless of how or why they were discharged. Originally funded by veteran donations and Jaime’s retirement checks, the organization is now receiving grants, which makes resources more readily available. When a veteran exits the program “fixed,” they are offered a peer counselor position to pay it forward. Since inception on April 6, 2016, FIX’D has helped 1,300 veterans and their families and successfully intervened in over 311 suicide interventions. “It is working,” Jaime says. “What we’re doing is working.”
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