Drinking Helped with the Grief

You can tell immediately that Army Veteran Anthony Brown is proud of his time in the military and rightly so. An “Army brat” himself, he was born in New Brunswick City and then moved to Missouri when his father returned from Korea.

He joined the Army his senior year in the delayed entry
program and went to boot camp in Fort Leonard Wood,
Missouri the July after graduation. “It was so hot, we trained
from 3 am to 6 am and then went inside for indoor

After boot camp, Mr. Brown trained as a medic and then went to Fort Sam Houston for training as a
combat medic. He was next sent to the Academy for specialized training as an ear, nose, and throat
specialist technician. “I did everything from hearing tests for pilots to assisting surgeons.”
His class was then sent to Germany. “We all got sent to the same place which was not supposed to
happen. It was just us, no officers, so we just went ahead and ran everything. Eventually, they found
us and sent us our orders. I was sent to the hospital in Nuremberg. They had a full medical staff so I
got to do lots of different things.”

Mr. Brown finished his eight years of service in Alabama working on an aeromedical research team.
“We were trying to design a better helmet for helicopter pilots. There were articles and books
published about our research; my name is in some of those books!” He proudly told me that over
the years he received the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, multiple Army Good
Conduct ribbons, and achieved both the expert rifle and grenade sharp shooter levels.
While in the Army he married a fellow serviceperson and they had two daughters. “One is a teacher
and the other is a physical therapist,” he said proudly. But that marriage dissolved due to the difficulty
of juggling two military A schedules. After leaving the Army, he went to school to become a
respiratory therapist. “I was really pleased. They only had fifteen spots and they had sixty applicants.”

He had another daughter, but that relationship didn’t last and in 1995, his world fell apart. Her
mother left the child with a boyfriend and she was raped and murdered. “I was living in Oklahoma
and was on my way to their house and when I arrived, there were police cars and crime scene tape…It
was too much to deal with and I began drinking. It was a way to avoid dealing with the grief.”
Mr. Brown eventually decided to get help with his drinking. “I went to the VA in Oklahoma City, but
they didn’t have any residential treatment programs so they referred me to Fort Root. I went through
their program and was referred to St. Francis House.”

Mr. Brown is trying to “find ways to continue my treatment” after leaving St. Francis House. “I have a
temporary sponsor and I plan to stay in Arkansas. I’m going to follow the “change your people, places,
and things” plan. I’m working with HUD/VASH to find a place and I’ve signed up with Upward Bound
so I can go back and further my training as a respiratory therapist. And I’m dealing with my grief. It’s
hard not to feel guilty and it’s hard not to want to take justice into my own hands. But that’s not
healthy. I would tell anyone who is having problems, don’t wait as long as I did to get help dealing
with your inner pain.”