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Warriors of Camp Southern Ground

Adam Reuter

Adam is a Warrior Week alum. He graduated high school in 2001 and enlisted three weeks after 9/11. This is his story.

“If normal isn’t working, let’s get weird.”
“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by ignorance.”

I grew up in Waterloo, Iowa. I grew up poor, but we got by. Dad worked as a laborer; Mom cut hair. Even while he attended college while I was growing up, he was drunk. Worse yet, he was addicted to pills, but we didn’t know that part until he was arrested for breaking into a catholic school (where he used to teach) to steal ADHD medication. We found that out the day after Thanksgiving when he was arrested at my grandma’s house.

Things seemed to improve. He was doing well, and I was feeling proud of him. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack about three weeks shy of his one-year chip. At that time, I was kind of abruptly thrown into a role I wasn’t prepared for; at 13, I ended up performing CPR on my dead dad for about 40 minutes. This has messed my head up quite a bit over the years (because how could it not). Following my dad’s death, I became far more parentified than I should have been allowed to be, but it is what it is. We make do with what we got. Not long after that, I moved to Georgia and graduated from East Coweta High School.

I graduated high school in 2001 and spent the following summer working construction cleanup. 9/11 happened and I enlisted three weeks later. Along the way I attended training, fell in love, got married, and had my first son. My wife and I had been in Colorado all of three weeks and three days following my son’s birth before I was off to Iraq.

I served as a ground surveillance radar operator in Military Intel. The systems we were trained on had absolutely no value in an urban fighting scenario, so my platoon was farmed out to line units where we were attached. We served alongside Calvary scouts, patrolling cities along the Syrian Border. In 2005, I was medically discharged due to a spinal injury sustained in Iraq.

I faced very similar challenges as a lot of vets after returning home. Over the past 20 years I have had my struggles with the VA. In receiving both mental health and physical therapies. I ended up stumbling into a career in law enforcement that I worked diligently at for 14 years. I loved my job and loved helping people. My professional life was going great. Personally, I was miserable. Self-destructive behaviors caught up to me June 11th, 2023, when I was arrested for disorderly conduct following a drunken (non-physical but aggressive) fight with my adult son. Just like that my career and sense of identity were gone. I felt so alone and abandoned by people I thought cared about me. But that began a journey of self-discovery that I wouldn’t change for anything in the world.

Fairly recently, I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in addition to PTSD. It was terrifying but also completely eye opening. Frustrated with lack of response or answers from the VA, I began to look for outside resources for me to become the best version of myself. That is how I heard about Warrior Week. While I had been vaguely aware of Camp Southern Ground, I had only ever associated it with it just being a traditional typical summer camp. Boy was I wrong. I have never in my life experienced an environment where every single person associated with that organization is 100% on board and committed to a common purpose. From farmer Larry to the culinary staff, my man Rob that took a chance on this broken, crazy combat vet, and Brent and gorgeous George who provided tremendous insight.

I know I have a lot of challenges and a lot of negative things and negative thoughts that I must let go of, but the time I spent at Warrior Week gives me immense hope for the future. Not just for me personally, but because I cannot imagine a scenario where someone enters the program with pure intention and a desire for self-improvement and come out of that experience unchanged.

Help us make a difference in the lives of more veterans like Adam.