Chili Off The Grid

June 17, 2014 0 Comments

Vision:

To instill pride and self-worth back into these individuals. To ease the transition from military to civilian life and combat homelessness, unemployment, and suicide.

Mission:

To inspire all those that we may come into contact with by continually presenting a positive message of conservation and education of armed-forces veteran disabilities and issues relating to them. Our core tenants are to combat veteran homelessness, unemployment, and suicide.

Chili's Story:

All of this started in September 2012 when I walked into my garage. This was my second attempt at suicide. The other was December of 2006 while on terminal leave. The latest attempt allowed me to see the terror in my wife's face and my young son who heard my wife freaking out and ran to the garage. My wife clung to my waist and would not let me drop. She tried to stop me a few minutes earlier but I pushed her down causing her to sprain her ankle pretty badly. She stood on one leg trying to support me at 200lbs. I was covered in fear the whole time. I even remember as I stood on the stool putting my head through the noose thinking"hope I dont slip". That stuck with me because I was determined to die but scared as hell about it, and I couldn't stop myself because I felt I had failed the marine corps and my family. Because of my wife, I got down, but planned on doing it again when she fell asleep. But she never slept and I couldnt get my "hope I dont slip" thought out of my head. I decided I wouldn't do this again until I knew why I had thought that. So I began a bit of a journey. Hiking,camping, hunting and spending countless days in the woods completely stripping my inhibitions so I could make a record of my thoughts. I began recording them and people watched them and laughed. So I did more. Each time I had to completely lose my mind for days at a time but also I would have to think and verbalize things. It became easier every time until all of the sudden I noticed that talking about dead friends and my suicide attempts was general,non-emotional conversation for me. Now, I'm not the hardened combat veteran. I was 4 years marine infantry but because of assignments and a severe leg injury I never served in combat. Many of my friends did and many of my friends died. That never sat well with me but the wrong thing to do was spend 7 years denying I was a veteran and being an alcoholic. Which brings us to the aftermath. The healing I experienced in the woods wasn't complete until I began to reconnect with men I served with as well as other veterans. I had resisted this for so long out of embarrassment I felt for them fighting in my stead though there was nothing I could have even done. So my time in the woods made me comfortable being around veterans. This  lead to finding out about the problem with veteran suicide. There's not many people that have survived suicide so I figured that I shouldn't let my life go to waste. If we could put together my experience and what others are going through individually, we may just kick suicide in the teeth. So the videos became more and more frequent in an attempt to increase visibility and awareness. Then, bam! They were on national television. Veterans started pouring in wanting to go hunting and fishing. Attitudes are changing, people are allowing themselves to disconnect and breakdown in a good way. Because of the structure and accountability,  everyone involved now has a mission, command, and camaraderie that had been missing since leaving the service. I believe we get a gift here and there.  Mine was a wife on a bum leg that would not let me hang. Maybe someone else's will be a chance to disconnect from whatever they are bogged down in and get connected with a mission, command, and unit again. I don't miss field days at all, but I miss the camaraderie. Thats what Chili Off The Grid is all about and we can all take responsibilities in it.

Aaron "Chili" Childress




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