De'Angilo's Story

In Six Words: It’s about progress, not about perfection.

Ever since he was little, he was fascinated with the Army. He wore camouflage gear and army t-shirts all throughout his childhood. He was inspired by his Aunt’s promotion to Army Master Sargent. “I wanted to fight for my country, change my life and get help for school when I was done.” It did change his life. Today, 28 year-old De’Angilo is a changed man and finding a way to live in the light.

De’Angilo went on two combat tours in Iraq. “I learned a lot, and I scarified a lot,” spoken ever so softly. “I met a lot of good people and was in a lot of bad situations.” And of his military career, that is all De’Angilo will share with us. He works daily to stay positive and tries not to look back. When he came home from his second tour, he knew he was a changed man.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) became how he functioned with his return to civilian life. He was trained to be hyper-vigilant, but not trained on how to let that go once home and he had a hard time keeping relationships. Plagued by nightmares and depression, he found that his life had become very lonely, “people just didn’t understand what I had gone through. I never had thoughts of suicide until my time in the military.”

“Every day is a battle . . .”

The story is not what De’Angilo has seen or experienced in the military, but how he is coping with life today. Through the VA, De’Angilo sought out help from Volunteers of America because he knew he needed the help. Here he found a community of people that understood what he was going through and a staff that supported him. He became a morning motivation leader and a confidant and friend to many of his fellow veterans. He admits, “Some days are good and some days are bad, but I have to move forward.”

“He is my heart.” With motivation and inspiration from his 6-year old nephew, born before his second deployment, De’Angilo works every day to be a role model. “I want to be honorable for him, and be someone for him to look up to . . .” He participated in the cognitive behavioral therapy classes and “found the good” in life. He learned coping mechanisms, how to deal with PTSD triggers and self-acceptance. “It was a new way of thinking and participating with other veterans helped me realize that we have things in common. And it helped to have those connections.”

“It’s about progress, not perfection.” And every day, De’Angilo works on progressing forward, to “stay in the light” to reunite with his nephew, go to school and live a functional life. “I needed it. I needed the help.”

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