I got out of the Air Force after serving 26 months of active duty. I was stationed overseas, so I was not just transitioning to civilian life; I was transitioning back to the U.S. I had a major culture shock when I got home and found that just going to the grocery store was challenging. People I knew would come running up to me to say hello. Having PTSD made these instances hard to handle.

I quickly found that I had all the time in the world, but not a lot of money or resources. I was too stressed out to work and was trying to get my medical matters taken care of.  People would always ask me, “What do you do?” I didn’t know how to answer.

In 2011, I found the Mission Continues. It was the same day I was laid off for the second time in eighteen months. I checked out the website and realized right then and there I had to apply. I wanted a challenge and a chance to serve again. I needed the fellowship because all of the extra time and depression had caused me to hit rock bottom.

I did my fellowship at the Rescue Mission in Roanoke. The Rescue Mission (often known as “The Mission”) is the only emergency homeless shelter in the Roanoke Valley. Each night more than 300 plus men, women, and children will come to see a safe place to sleep and eat a warm meal. Often, we are the last place people turn to in times of crisis and we welcome them with open arms. Serving at the mission opened my eyes to the needs of our society and made me realize that although I am disabled, I am still very ABLE and willing to continue my service here at home.

Sarah Bonner served two years in the United States Air Force. She has served as a Fellow at the Mission Continues with the Rescue Mission in Roanoke Valley, Virginia.

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Published on Jul. 5, 2012

Estimated reading time is 1.7 min.

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  1. Mike Dullaghan July 8, 2012 at 1:56 am

    Thanks for serving again!!

  2. Mary Triplett July 7, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Sarah- First from female soldier to another- welcome home sister. I couldn’t help to relate to you as you described the culture shock coming home from being stationed overseas- I think most of us who were ever stationed overseas can relate to it. I’m also very happy to read that you consider yourself disabled and not handicap – that’s a big step in healing. I for one served in the Army from 79-82, and though it took a years for the injuries from a car accident during the time that I was in to really surface I now pay a price with scar tissue in my nose, and a case of injured lower vertebrae, osteoarthritis, and scoliosis I thank God that the Army gave me the fortitude to carry on. For 17 years I’ve been a single Mom of 2 boys, which meant there was no time to slow down. I’m now a substitute teacher in a high school near my home, I’ve supported that high school’s Army JROTC program since 2006 and now I’m also executive officer in the Sea Scouts, which on a traditional ship such as ours is basically Navy JROTC (with a Vietnam era Captain from the Marines and Navy). Sea Scouts by the way is attached to the Boy Scouts but is co-ed and for people ages 13 to 20. At 21 they become officers if they stay with the ship. So I guess what I’m saying is that since children are our future and the future of our country- I’ve not stopped serving- just found another way to do so.

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