The Storytime Project started as a way to check in on fellow veterans and has become a movement where veterans check in on each other on the 22nd of each month.
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Scott DeLuzio 00:00:00 Thanks for tuning into the Drive On Podcast where we're focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community, whether you're a veteran, active duty, guard reserve, or family member, this podcast, will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I'm your host, Scott Lucio. And now, let's get on with the show. Everybody. Welcome back to the Drive On Podcast today. My guest is Christopher abuse. Christopher started the Storytime project as a way to check in on fellow veterans and help prevent veteran suicide. So welcome to the show. Christopher, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
Christopher Labeause 00:00:39 My name is Christopher LaBeause. I'm a Sergeant first class in the United States Army. Been in about 13 years now, a little over 13 years and, yeah, to about two years ago now me and my wife, founded the Storytime Project to prevent veteran suicide and be more proactive because we realized there was enough of the awareness being brought, but less of the prevention. So we came up with story time after, one of my soldiers, the actually the six soldiers to commit suicide that I've had and that 13 years, Justin’s story, after he committed suicide. We came up with, the practice and then it just kind of started taking off from there.
Scott DeLuzio 00:01:25 Yeah, so I mean, I mean, unfortunately, sometimes great things come from bad situations. I feel strange saying that this is a great thing because, ideally, we wouldn't live in a world where things like this would be necessary, but what we do. And so, what you're doing, that to help prevent veteran suicide I think is a great thing. What was the idea behind the Storytime project? After there was this loss and everything, what made you think that this was a good idea, and what kind of led it to where it is today?
Christopher Labeause 00:02:16 I had a medic on my second deployment. , He joined the army when he was 17 years old deployed when he was 18. And he ended up committing suicide when he was 21. doc NATO was his name, and he was just an outstanding guy, and it hit me really hard. And I racked my brain trying to figure out how to prevent this. How to prevent veteran suicide. And I just couldn't come up with anything at the time. And then, because it was ridiculous. I did the day I found out the next day I did 22 pushups every hour on the hour for 24 hours. And isn't going to bring them back. This isn't really preventing anything.
Christopher Labeause 00:03:08 Then, years go on, and I, myself, actually ended up after my fourth deployment and being admitted into a behavioral health hospital. And I was terrified. I remember I CA I, it was, it was me and my ex-wife were having issues because I just stepped back from the deployment and we'd already been gone. We were already divorced at this time, and I kinda got back through the deployment, curled up into a little bottle. And one of my buddies, a really good friend, was another squad leader with me. He picked up on the signs, realized what was going down, came over to my house, and wouldn't leave me alone. And we went, I ended up calling the MPS, the MPS came over, and it was one thing after the other, the next thing I'm in a hospital in the ER portion of the hospital on Fort Polk.
Christopher Labeause 00:04:01 And this major comes in, and she comes in, and I'm sitting here thinking to myself, I'm like, all right, Chris, man, you can bullshit your way out of this, And then you can just go live your life or, keep in actually there's one point. I was actually thinking how I could escape. All right, I can go outside and smoke, and then I can run because I was so terrified of getting help because of the stigma behind it, And they don't get help. Especially as a non-commissioned officer, at this time, I was a staff Sergeant. What am I going to do? I'm gonna lose all my street credit, be in this, this four times deployed header staff, starting, CIB and everything.
Christopher Labeause 00:04:45 And, all these Joe's looked up to me and then this Ms. Major comes in, and she's, “whoa. After reviewing and seeing what you said and seeing what your peers have said that brought you in, we're going to send you to the BA this behavioral health hospital”. And I'm saying, “the fuck you are,” the only time I ever got, or at this time I was about ten years, eight years, something like that. The only time I ever got mouthy with an officer, especially a major. She was kind of snarky. Anyway, there, she kind of had an attitude then we'll just get the MPS and, being an infantryman.
Christopher Labeause 00:05:29, Ooh, an MP. we'll bring the whole battalion. And, I'm not a very tall dude at this time. We're pretty fresh from back from our last deployment. And so I had to add a little bit of lean muscle on me. I was pretty good. We'll bring the whole battalion then. Because I ain't going. And my platoon Sergeant at the time comes in, who's a massive, he was a massive support system, and he comes in, and he just has this dumbfounded look. He looks at me. He said, “Hey, the abuse, there's like two squads where the infantrymen out or, MPU, I'll the door talking about how they're going to tase you and drag you out of the thing.” And I'm thinking,” oh shit.”
Christopher Labeause 00:06:08 So he ended up kind of talking to me down, and it was, I remember, I had tears rolling down my face, and I was so terrified, man. They send these same guys like us to this. exactly what I said they send guys like us to places like this, and they just throw away the key. I thought I was never going to get out. I thought it was like I was going to do a month there. And then they're like, all right, now you're getting a chapter out of the army, and I've done this job since I was 18 years old. Yeah. I really didn't know anything else. And he ended up talking to me off the ledge, so to speak, and we ended up going, and he's like, all right.
Christopher Labeause 00:06:50 What do you want to do? And I'm going to tell him, I'm in an emergency room. I was a weapons squad leader at the time. What do you mean to tell the guys? And I told him, I went to the emergency room. That's what we'll tell him, that'll be the story. And so we kind of cover this up a little bit and he's said, okay, he was down with it. And I'm thinking we're driving and it was about an hour drive to the hospital and I'm sitting here thinking, and it was really bad. Because my first arm, that was his first weekend, we just did change responsibility. So that was his first weekend. And his first weekend, he has a staff Sergeant go into the mental hospital.
Christopher Labeause 00:07:32 So I texted him sorry. He said “don't worry, man. Shit happens, just go get help.” And, then I was thinking about it on the hour drive. I'm thinking, what terms are, who was my platoon Sergeant or Mike tells the guys what, tell them where I'm at. Be honest with them. And at that moment I realized that non-commissioned officers, we go off of Urbino do. be that NCO, know what you're supposed to know, and do what you're supposed to do essentially. All right, well, I'm going to be that NCO. And at that moment, I'm thinking, all right, I'm going to, I'm just going to set the example. I'm going to set the standard for this., I'm going to go get help, get my headspace and timing readjusted, and I'm gonna come back and I'm just going to be the same, same NCO that I did, but better.
Christopher Labeause 00:08:20 And that's exactly what I did. I went to the hospital, I spent about two and a half weeks maybe. And then after that, I got out and a week later I was on platoon live fire, controlling a weapons squad. And it was the best performance I believe I've ever had. And even the SAR major, God damn reviews. He said I'm gonna send,, but you just got back from the behavioral health hospital and you come in and you got your fight. Your fire commands are on point, Atarax, all this stuff was just your shit hot. You're calling out targets. You're marking targets with your three 20 and out and out. And it just pieces started falling into place. I wasn't worried about this stuff. I had all the time in the world to think about this stuff.
Christopher Labeause 00:09:06, What's through my apartment because I was so in tuned with everything. Because I had nothing else on my mind. It was just back to being me. I was still up to this quality. I was still in the army. And then, Justin, I got the text from another squad leader that I PCs from Fort Polk came to you to camp Atterbury where I'm an OCT for national guard units. I was out Turkey hunting one morning and I got a text message from Austin, one of the other squad leaders and the company back in Polk that I was with. And he's iit said,, sorry, he killed himself last night. And I remember it cause I was picking up the target and the decoys for Turkey hunting.
Christopher Labeause 00:09:54 And I just opened it up, looked at it and put it in my pocket real quick. Cause I didn't, I, I kind of read it, but I thought it said something completely different. I said, I thought I got a story for me. And that go pick up the targets. I go back to the truck. Me and my wife were sitting in the truck and I said, “oh yeah, Austin texted me. “And I call him my phone and I see you story killed himself last night. And at that, and it's just shit stopped in my wife's she told me my face went white because it was just the last thing I've ever expected. I tell y'all you always hear that, So last thing I was talking to him yesterday, cause he's a big Packers fan. I was born in Wisconsin, so I was a Packers fan., I was just talking to him the other day, talk the shit, BS and about it on Snapchat and until we got home and because I, after I got out of the mental hospital, I stopped drinking.
Christopher Labeause 00:10:50 When I got with my wife, my wife now. I've been sober for almost a year at this time when me and her got together. And so I didn't drink. And that was that normal coping mechanism, kind of the whole vibe, like how the military kind of tries to emulate being a Viking. You're so badass and still be here. You can't sustain that fight. And the guys I see on Instagram and Snapchat and Facebook and all these, all these social media sites, it's, oh, tell about how a story, the shower beers for you or this beer is for you. I didn't because I was sober and I didn't want to drink because I'm man enough to admit that I can't drink, I can't, I couldn't even go into a bar right now.
Christopher Labeause 00:11:35 And I've been sober for two years and I couldn't, I don't know if it's the right wording but boarded that opportunity to go back into the bottle. Because life's good right now. Me and my wife where we're married, we're happy, this is amazing. I'm not going to jeopardize that just to go into the bottle because of this. So I sat at the end of my bed and once again, those pieces were just kind of falling into place and I'm all right because I started noticing, 13 years then you start noticing things some crazy things, like some of the best NCS and soldiers I've ever had were from broken homes because they immediately latched onto that loyalty.
Christopher Labeause 00:12:14 And even in history, starting out in mercy, he came from a broken home? So I started noticing those things and a lot of suicides happen after ETS and PCs?, you get these guys in and they come in and they they're with that unit for anywhere between three to five years roughly. And they build that bond and then all of a sudden they get that bond stripped from them and then they PCs and they might not know anybody there, or there might be a completely different culture there,, especially going from a light unit to mechanized unit or a light unit to a recruiting office, like what was the story's case and everybody, he, you just, don't kind of jive with everybody as much as your old unit. And so you get that, You're already more segregated from everybody.
Christopher Labeause 00:13:05, and what's an easy mechanism to go drink. And sorry. And then you also kind of lose contact with them too, I got, you're so involved with your life that you kind of forget all those brothers you had a few years ago and every now and then you see them on Facebook and then you talk to them and everything. So that's one thing we have to stop,, to bring prevention. I want to prevent it. I don't want to bring awareness. I want to prevent it. So I just kept thinking and I'm all right, well, we do a radio check when we're on guards. because every deployment I had been on guard rotation here in SOG, on the tops or on the fives or whatever.
Christopher Labeause 00:13:48 Well, we do a radio check to make sure these dudes are fucking good and not screwing around, not sleeping. Why don't we just do a radio check now? And Alright, 1800. That's a good time. People it's in between, Dinner and bed roughly. Dinner's not because either before that or after, and everything starts to wind down from the day and my guard at the 22nd of the month, all right, let's do the 22nd because that's in between pay periods. A lot of dudes are starting to get tight on money and stressors are starting to come off as well as,, obviously 22 for veterans suicide. It's an easy number to remember. It was just something that took over my fingers when I was writing up this thing on Facebook, on my status.
Christopher Labeause 00:14:33 And I also wanted to keep it away from being military-oriented because, what I've seen is just, the job I have now being an OCT, you in order, you have to be able to, to know what you're talking about, And that was a big thing. I did a bunch of research and I'm thinking, these guys need something else. Besides the military, with me, I got in, I joined the army when I was 18 and this is all I've done for the last 13 years. I wouldn't know what else to do. I kind of want to keep it away from the military side, cause some dudes said you should have called a radio check or something.
Christopher Labeause 00:15:16 And also as everything in the army has to have a symbolism type, even down to the colors on your, on the flash and all this other cases and stuff, everything is a symbol. So I wanted to symbolize stuff, but I didn't think it was going to get as big as it's gotten now. so I wanted it to be called Storytime. Cause it kind of goes together. And then for Justin and, it was so that the guys from my company could see that they could see Justin store. Cause that's all, it was just set your alarm on your phone for 1800 on the 22nd. And then it goes off, we stop what you're doing. You see Storytime it kind of hits that memory bank and it brings those feelings back on how you felt when we lost them.
Christopher Labeause 00:16:03 I don't want to feel that way again. So I'm going to make this call. I'm going to reach out to dude. I haven't called in a while. And it's awesome. So that's how we'll set it up. It also plays to just everyday people too. I'm a realist about suicide, no matter what, if you're military an astronaut, Anybody, it sucks. It's horrible. So it also plays along with the civilian aspect too. And then, we started that up and there's just a simple ideology and about a month later. Yeah. Next thing you know, my Facebook is just blowing up on the 22nd .
Christopher Labeause 00:16:46 I used to get off of drinking so much, just keep my hands busy. And so I got big into woodworking and other things. And I always wanted this. It's pretty funny. Because I just always wanted this Cricut machine and marched .We went and got it. And I couldn't figure out what to make with it. You know, you just got this cool new joy.. Oh, I don't even know what I want to do with it. So I just designed a sticker and I posted on Facebook and then next thing my buddies are excited, dude, how much do you want? I can't really put a price on this man. It's all about awareness. That's the thought process. I've always, it's always about the prevention of it.
Christopher Labeause 00:17:25 And this could be a reminder for that. And so I just about donations. You can Venmo, you can Venmo me and I'll get it out to you. And for the next week, me and my wife were up until two o'clock in the morning making these stickers and we got a good, a little chunk of change in l. All right, what are we going to do with this money? Let me look into some organizations. We could donate it under Justin's name. And I looked into it and I was researching. And these guys, 22% of every dollar was actually going to help people 5%, 6%,, the biggest one was 35% I think. And I looked into nonprofits and how it works is that 95, 90 5% of your profit has to go back in to helping people.
Christopher Labeause 00:18:16 And because these companies have so much overhead, it's understandable, it comes with this bigger, they have more overhead. And so that number drops and then I thought, I don't know what to do. And then my wife, because of COVID was big. We could go anywhere for a honeymoon. She's said, well, let's just go all in. I'll set up the paperwork, I'll get the EIN number, I'll get the 501C3 numbers. I'll get all this paperwork done and we can go, we'll put our honeymoon money into it and we'll be official. And I'm said, all right, well, what are we going to, how are we going to help people? And once again, I was kind of looking up for ideas. What helped me when I got out of the hospital, outdoor recreation and fitness are my two biggest go tos.
Christopher Labeause 00:18:59 We'll do outdoor, we'll have a four pillar program, the first pillar is just about story time, reaching out to your buddies, being proactive. The second pillar will be community outreach, talking, going on podcasts, talking to groups, talking to soldiers, some of my buddies that are pitching sergeants. Now they invite me down and I hang out and talk to their guys. we'll do a workout or something. And then the last two will be physical fitness and the outdoors. And I went, I was a realist and I'm those big elk hunting trips, we just got back from an Oakland trip. And that's why I only do, I only do one big trip a year, but I do, we do a bunch of little trips and cause I prefer that, I'd rather teach a man how to fish then fish form.
Christopher Labeause 00:19:50 Because when he comes back from that elk hunting trip, he's still gonna have all these problems? I can give him advice and let him see what's going down, but I'd rather teach him that if he has a stressful day, how to go into the backyard, how to go to that half of my end and get out there or how to shoot. And then we're going to gear more towards archery because, a lot of, the basic rifle marksmanship falls into archery. It's different because it's not a gun, it gives them that sense of, something more than an infantry man in the army, I'm also an Archer. And then for physical fitness, we leaned hard on CrossFit because that community is just, it's an amazing community, very nice community.
Christopher Labeause 00:20:31 And once again, it pulls them out of, I'm not just an infantry man and I'm not just in the army, I'm also a CrossFit athlete. And then that was that's, that's pretty much from start to finish, lhow, it started. I'll just kind of rolled. And Paul puzzle pieces go in and the support I had from my wife and stuff was, was just really cool and know I've made a deal right off the bat, that we will never pay ourselves off of this, no matter how big we'll get. We'll never pay ourselves off of it. And whatever money we make goes right back into the account and right back out to help people. And because we're so personable and, I've been through the ringer, I've done the deployments, I've done. I've gotten help with behavioral health.
Christopher Labeause 00:21:17 I can relate to these dudes and I'll sit down and I'll talk to them and I'll be, we had one guy he wasn't really into fitness because his back was all jacked up. Didn't really do too much. And he is, she is from the city. So he didn't really have, He didn't really see any potential and hunterI never have done it. He was never really interested. So I sat and I thought, and, all right, well, he said he liked coffee, so let's get him into roasting his own coffee beans. And we hooked him up with his own stuff. And then, because once again, it plays into that, That nitpicky that we get in the military, that 45 degree angle. And I learned how to, how to roast my own coffee. And it's, it's a pain in the butt, man.
Christopher Labeause 00:21:58 It gets l land nav,. If you're a little off, you screw it all up. And it's good because we sent him the stuff and he learned how to, how to roast his own coffee. Now he loves it. And because he has that product to show. Hey, I'm not just, that with a jacked up bag, I also roast my own coffee. It gives him more. And then also gives them that instant feedback. Hey man, taste his coffee. I just brewed today, or just roasted today. What do you think? And then he gets that enjoyment and it also builds that community. And he can feel that he gives back when he makes coffee for the VA or whatever, wherever it has been. So we really try to tailor it to that guy. So it helps him. And it's, it's just been awesome, man. That's how it pretty much all started out when it went down, man. So
Scott DeLuzio 00:22:48 , I mean that, that's, that's absolutely an amazing story., with your personal situation, which was, a difficult time in your life. I'm glad to hear that you had leadership that, that you could count on that that were willing to, cover things up a little bit. I, maybe that's not the right word, but they were, were willing, your, your platoon Sergeant was willing to, help you save face if you will, with, with your guys and, and everything, and so I think having that level of comfort because going into it, I think you're not a unique story here. I think a lot of people who are going into behavioral health, kinda crises they're, they're worried about their and what other people are going to think of them and all that kind of stuff.
Scott DeLuzio 00:23:48 And knowing that they have someone there who's, who's gonna, cover for them and, and make it so that all of those worries can kind of just get pushed aside and then they can focus on what they need to focus on their, their mental health is, is a super important thing to have. How did your leadership, you decided to, lead by example and, and say, Hey, look, I needed help. I'm not immune to this. And, here we go. Now I'm going to go get the help that I need, and, and take care of that. Because I think other people are going to follow that lead, when, when they discover that, oh, Hey, so-and-so, they, they did this., and they, they turned out pretty, pretty damn good, so, okay, well maybe I need some help too, and I'll go in and get some help too.
Scott DeLuzio 00:24:43 , I think those two are super important points. And, and you, you mentioned those earlier, and I, I just wanted to circle back to those because I think having that kind of leadership, in any organization and, and you alluded to this too, this is not just limited to the military,, civilians can have this kind of problem as well, but it's super important to have that kind of leadership that that's going to, be by example, and also take care of their people,? So, so those, those are amazing So at 1800 on the 22nd of every month, I mean, it seems like a simple thing to do. Just pick up the phone and call someone. You haven't talked to her in a while, right?
Christopher Labeause 00:25:28 Yeah. That's the coolest thing about it is because we, on our website, we have our t-shirts and stuff to fund our extracurriculars, the hunting and the CrossFit sponsoring guys and stuff like that. But it was so funny the other day, one of my buddies doesn't live too far away from me. Hey man, there's this guy who owns his gun shop. And I kind of, I told him about, your nonprofit and, I kind of want you to meet him. And so we go down, there, we go in, we go into the gun store. Immediately, he stops me. Nowadays it's what drives me insane because everybody's support, local vet or support veteran owned business.
Christopher Labeause 00:26:11 And then they ask for free shit. There's a million companies out there that I spend half my military paycheck on because one I want, to support their dreams. Cause that's, that's our, I think it's a fun hobby. Most of the stuff I own now is veteran owned businesses. I'll buy their stuff and then I kinda tell them about story time. And then they're like, oh, awesome. But anyway, this guy, you can tell he's had a million people come in and ask them for free ammo and stuff like that. And right. As soon as I come in, you can see in his eyes, it's just like, oh, great. Another non-profit one and shit. And he comes or I come in and immediately, he puts his hands up like this and he's like, all right, dude, before we do any work together, I'm going to some paperwork showing you are official.
Christopher Labeause 00:27:01 , I tell them I have my 501C3 my EIN and, all that It's really hard for me not to get defensive sometimes, especially, you know, and I put my hand and just kind of mimic. oh man, just so you understand, I don't need your fucking money. Right. , if you would, if you would've just let me explain how Storytime works. And I told him, I told him my kids, his attitude just completely changed. And that's the coolest thing. Cause I can be broke as shit and still preach the gospel. It's going to help the most people, just calling, reaching out, checking on your bodies.
Christopher Labeause 00:27:41 And then also just me coming up and talking with you, my cell phone bill that I had to pay anywhere right now and letting people know what it's like, so I've been in the army 13 years. Right. It took me eight years being in the army to go to behavioral health. And then it took me another two years on top of that to kick the bottle. So total 10 years. And cause I've been in roughly, I just broke 13. And since those three years, and this is after going to the behavioral health hospital when I was supposed to be kicked out, and my crew is supposed to be over. I've gone to SLC, I've gotten promoted to Sergeant first class. I got my EIB to be seven times to get my aid man. And it was rough, but, and once I got it, it was air.
Christopher Labeause 00:28:27 Once I had a clear head space, I got it. Last year I took fourth in best warrior in core level. I just got inducted into the start Arnie Murphy club, Actually at the beginning of this month. You want to call that kid week coming, call me weak. I love calling dudes out on that because it's like, it's not a weakness. It's like I checked the oil in my car. Is that, is that the car being weak? No, sometimes you just need outside help and you need to get the internal states. And, and it's just, it's one of those things that it's just so simple and we overlooked for such a long time. And that's also, the other thing is like the way, not the 22 pushups, it's amazing.
Christopher Labeause 00:29:12 It brought awareness and, and, and all that, but it almost at the end. And also you can see it with that. Remember that ice bucket ALS challenge that didn't raise very much money, but everybody knew about it because they wanted to pour ice on their head. And then the 22 pushups it's like people would videotape themselves doing these pushups and then post it online. I'm doing, , my name is Christopher. We're doing 22 pushups for 22 days for veterans suicide awareness and you knock them out. And then my boss, I remember one day we were just looking and he asked why is this dude doing something we're really good at pushups to bring awareness to something we're really bad at. it kind of felt like that dude is kind of like a pain in the butt or a complete piece of crap. Monday through Saturday, but he puts that $20 in the offering plate or he does that one good deed, and he is just a Saint in his conscious is clear.
Christopher Labeause 00:30:11 That's what it kind of felt like. I'm pretty sure you, you get it too. When you go into Walmart, when you're in uniform, just try to pick up milk on the way home. This happened the other day. Just, and then this lady, My wife's in a CA crutches right now, Tori SEL and I'm pushing the cart. And this lady cuts, my wife off comes in front of me and she looks at me, because I was in uniform . And she's just said “ thank you for your service.” And always in the back of your head. And you're thinking, is that what you mean it, or is that what you were kind of trained to do? You think it's the right answer to do? It's a reflex.
Christopher Labeause 00:30:45 Yeah. And so that's what that stuff kind of felt like. And I seen also with the suicide, It’s almost, it was also a circle too. The guy would come, they'd have a soldier in the unit commit suicide, and then he would go and then the unit would be really close for about three months. And then it just, and there's, there's always the same base, six suicides since I've been here and it's always been the same Facebook message on there. And it was just this cheesy message, Hey, everybody fall in. All right, listen up, fuck it. If you need anything, you can reach out to me and, it goes on but we're all stubborn. But that was one thing that kind of kicked me in the butt too.
Christopher Labeause 00:31:29 We're all stubborn assholes. It was almost like Monty Python where the Knights hopped around. I'm fine. I'm still going to get you. And he goes out with no legs. And it shows how stubborn we are. So we have to reach out, no, man, I'm going to reach out to you. And I'm going to be proactive because once the unit started piddling off, that, that, that tightness right after the suicide, next thing, there was another suicide and then it goes back, same text message, same message, everybody's close again. And then that's where I figured we needed a once a month thing, I'd know crap set, date and time. And that's why we have the reminders. Because that almost essentially will break that cycle of keeping that unit together, even though they PCs.
Christopher Labeause 00:32:18 And then you just kinda BS with it. Because there's two dudes. One dude I did my third deployment with, and then another day I did my first deployment with so 13 years ago because I deployed right or well, 10 or 11 years ago now I did my first deployment with, he lived 15 minutes away from me. I live in a room. No way I live right down the road. And then, so it's just the crazy stuff that happens. And, so that was, it's just insane how it all worked out, man. And it was always right in front of us the whole time and we just kept overlooking, I think just cause it was so simple
Scott DeLuzio 00:33:02 Yeah, I mean just, just being able to reach out and talk to somebody and having that connection is just so easy to do. And, like you said, I think we don't think about that because it is such an easy solution to a problem. After one of the suicides from one of the guys that I, I served with our the platoon Sergeant that we, we served with in Afghanistan, he set up a group chat on Facebook. and he added all of the guys who were in our platoon when we were in Afghanistan and he said look, we gotta be here for each other. We usually use the group just to shoot the shit and screw around and, and everything. But every once in a while someone's got, got a problem.
Scott DeLuzio 00:33:53 They need help. And so they drop a message in there and they're okay, well we got you we're gonna do what we can to, to help you. U and some of us,, I've gotten out, I got out years ago and I live on the other side of the country for most of these guys now, but we still can stay in communication by using this group. And, and it's, it's just a really great way to have that communication. So if someone doesn't want to talk on the phone, they can still send a message, and have that communication. I think that's the most important thing is just kind of staying connected and, and everything like that and, and making it an easy way to do.
Scott DeLuzio 00:34:36 And I think that's just another way to do it. Picking up the phone and calling someone, but that doesn't hurt either, like that, just , great way to, to do things. When I started this podcast, it was, it was after I had, I had known personally several people who had, had taken their lives that I served with them at one point or another. Throughout my time in the army. I didn't want to just sit around doing nothing, waiting for another phone call or a text message or something saying someone else took their lives. So I wanted to share stories of people like yourself, like the story that you told your story of going to mental health and getting the treatment that you needed, and then coming back even better off than you were before sharing stories like that.
Scott DeLuzio 00:35:30 I think that's what people need to hear. And, and you need to know that it's okay to go and get. And some people like yourself, even myself and a lot of other people, we didn't want to go get help. I lied through my teeth when I first came back from Afghanistan with all the, the, the screenings and everything that they did. I was like, I just want to get back home to my family. Just leave me alone with this, this crap. I'll deal with it later. And I'll, I'll be fine, but I wasn't fine. I needed the help, but. I was too stubborn to see it on my own. And so, you know, I eventually did get help. I was better off with this podcast. I want to make sure that people know that they're not alone.
Scott DeLuzio 00:36:17 You know, even though they may feel like they're there alone, They're the only ones in the world whomever struggle with whatever the case may be. I want to make sure that they know that there are other people out there sometimes knowing that, someone else has gone through a similar situation and come out better off for it is all you really need to know. There are resources out there to help them get through the tough times,, hunting trips or, outdoor recreation, CrossFit,, all those kinds of resources that are available. And they aren't necessarily the things that you're going to get when you go to the VA, and, and some people don't want to go to the VA or can't go to the VA for one reason or another. There are hundreds of other options out there for you. Things that you're doing are just great examples of the stuff that's out there. So I wanted to make sure that we got to highlight some of that stuff. on this show so that people know, you know what, there are things that I, I can do with, maybe I haven't tried everything yet.
Christopher Labeause 00:37:21 Yeah. I'm not, I don't have a crazy degree or anything like that. I have MRT and that's pretty much it. I remember when I was in the hospital, we had this this really old dude, and it's a slightly larger old lady. And two counselors I would see almost every other day. And one of them would drive me insane because one would try to take some of the, the one didn't know what I was going through. And she completely admitted it. She said that she had no idea what you're going through. I've never been in that situation. I don't know how to help you. And I'm like, all right, cool. Wrote her off. And then the other one was like, she would try to relate like stubbing your toe to the shrapnel I have in my side, he's like, yeah.
Christopher Labeause 00:38:12 I remember I woke up and we had our little meeting and when this weather changes, I can feel the rod in my knee. I broke my toe once. What are you talking about? So that's why it was another thing that led me to staying connected because Dr. Neto after, so this kid, he was just, he was a gangster. We got hit by a VB and the medic that we were. So because we were supporting an RCP that the medic froze. And this dude,this little kid, his aid bag was half his size. And he was just like a dog wanting to get out of the striker. And he takes off onto the striker.
Christopher Labeause 00:38:57 After the platoon, Sergeant says, it's good. We have our security in place. Anyone help this kid. He ends up saving these three dudes' lives. And it was just, it was amazing like how he did it. I thought he was a magician. He had scars coming out of everywhere. And pretty crazy wounds. Do you have shrapnel on his neck? Another dude of the piece of the engine blogger took off half his hip and crazy bad injuries. And, but he got them all in the bird within the golden hour and all three of them survived. And I agree. I gave him a lot of praise for that. But weeks after that, he would always come and wake me up. Hey, I need to talk to you. And because you keep you re iive that moment,, he was, he was 18 when I went down and I kind of, that's where I kind of shared my experience.
Christopher Labeause 00:39:49 That's where I kind of really started sharing my experiences with him because after my first deployment, craziest thing, I couldn't take the laundry out of my washing machine and put it into the dryer, just because the texture of the wet clothes kind of just brought shit back for me. And, I couldn't do it. And I shared that experience with him. And then that's when I realized, I guess another thing when I realized that you have to set that example and,, getting mental health doesn't mean you're weak. I have it all over my house where it's okay. Not to be okay. And it's true because nobody likes the Vikings kind of how they were all they're battle-hardened and all that stuff. You can't maintain that lifestyle 365 days a year, back in 2009 or 2010 is after my first deployment.
Christopher Labeause 00:40:39 The army came out with this manual, this book, and it was actually really good because it explained how you can't be in the military 24 7. You have to be a person some days. And then just from my other experiences, I've learned the Joes need to see that, Hey, I'm Chris. I have two boys at home. I have a new daughter, I'm married, not just, oh, this is our first class. They'll abuse because naked, once they see that I'm a real person too. And I have those real,, how I should, days on good days and stuff like that then. I'm pretty sure now you could probably tell that like a Civ or even a combat patch in the army is very far again, becoming very few and far between on antral treatment.
Christopher Labeause 00:41:26 Now, when, back when I joined everybody had one and now they see that, and then you automatically get put on a God status. And then they'll have a bad day with their wife or whatever. And we just got yo man, it happens to all of us, and this is how it works. This is how you can get it better and you just gotta be, you gotta be real with them. And then once they see, oh, he he's, he's supposed to be this amazing pipe fitter. That's all, done this, this cool shit. And I'm just me so I can get this fixed too. And then the other bad thing that the army has real trouble doing is comparing one another. I'll ask, comparing ourselves to each other, with PTSD., man, if that's, what, if that's what, makes you tick?
Christopher Labeause 00:42:14 That's what makes you tick. I'm not going to judge you. Nobody else should. Because, to me, it was, I couldn't change my washing machine out,, to somebody else, y you always see that. I've had buddies that couldn't refuse to drive past burger king,cause that smell and, whatever, make whatever happened that made. I used to kind of shrug it off after my second point, I would see the WTU that, oh, I got more than a 21 times. I used to get more than I'll go outside and smoke and then, oh, it's done go back into my room. I go back into the beehive. But if that affected him,, you shouldn't compare yourself to other people and cause it affects everybody differently.
Christopher Labeause 00:42:57 You know, a mortar round can drive that dude insane or a mortar round can be perfect, green something, whatever to meet and know. And that's what prevents you from getting help a lot too. And that's what I make sure I preach a lot too.Hey, if it affects you, man, that's on you. Nobody can judge you for that because I was the same way. Yeah, I've done a lot of shit, but I mean, And so I shouldn't, I should need this because I haven't done any of this crazy stuff. But in reality, and what I found out from talking to other people is like some of the stuff I've done has been really insane from the outside looking in. I was in Afghanistan in 2009.
Christopher Labeause 00:43:41 I guess man. I was a private, I was there like shit, And so it's the basics. That's the worst part about the army. We try to compare ourselves to one another. And that's the biggest thing that needs to stop along with it. But something we need to start is that communication. It's really helped me in all the crap that I've gone through. And this happened. It's really nice. My ex-wife decided to leave me while I was deployed because that makes me a better occupation officer, because I know when that private and we're on rotation or his wife leaves, I know that I can help him because I'd been through that and he can relate and he can see that it does get better.
Christopher Labeause 00:44:26 You know, it is now, that old Crow movie,, can't rain all the time, that he can see that and it does get better. Because that's what's been on a downward spiral these days, thanks so bad. That's like, no, man, it gets better I got the divorce papers and I'm never going to see my kids again. I'm going to,, I just downward spiral thought and it was horrible and I curled up and had no bottle of hide from it. And now man, I have an awesome relationship with my two boys and I'm remarried and happily remarried sober for two years. Iit does get better. You gotta put that work into it. And you gotta have that honest grind. And sometimes, people don't want to do that, but when they see that they have to do that, it'll push them a little bit farther, And it's been, it's been, it's been nice because it really feels like all that crap that I've done and gone through. it really pays off because I can help other people now and just talking with people and it's just been an awesome experience, man.
Scott DeLuzio 00:45:28 Yeah, for sure. And, and going through, sometimes you have to go through those hard times to really understand and appreciate the good times. And when you've gone through stuff like you've gone through and realize that there is a better future ahead of you,, it gives you that hope. And so that way, life is full of, hard times, we're always going to have hard times,, a loss of a loved one or, relationship change or, something is going to happen. And,, now that you can deal with that and, and you can, you can come out better off on the other side of whatever that situation is. And so that's a powerful thing to take with you and keep with you for the rest of your life, but also to impart on other people that the privates and everyone else who, who are,, they're just starting their adult lives, maybe,, they haven't really,, maybe they didn't grow up in a broken home or whatever, and they didn't really have any adversities,, growing up.
Scott DeLuzio 00:46:38 But, now they are, all of a sudden are going to be faced with something like that. And, and, they, they're going to need some mentorship and some leadership and, and get them through that. So I think all of that is really, really great stuff, really great, inspiring kind of motivational stuff to be talking about. And I really commend you for what you're doing and,, applaud the efforts of what you're doing because you're right. It's more than just awareness. It's about actual prevention and, and doing something to prevent these things from happening is super important. It's been a pleasure speaking with you today, learning about, Storytime project and everything that you've been doing and your background. I think it's, it's really, a great inspirational kind of story for people to listen to and take, take away some, some good advice from,, where can people go to help support the Storytime project. I know you mentioned stickers and things like that, but where can they go to support it and follow everything that you're doing?
Christopher Labeause 00:47:52 So we have on our, we have a website it's www.theStorytimeproject.com or stitch UV Storytime, project.com. https://www.facebook.com/storytime0520 and it's https://www.instagram.com/thestorytimeproject_0520/ Okay.
Scott DeLuzio 00:48:14 So I will have links to all of those in the show notes for anyone who's listening, who wants to go check it out and get involved in, in support of the project. What about people who are looking to get help,, through some of these trips or other things that you. Can they go to the website as well?
Christopher Labeause 00:48:34 Yes, if they know anybody or if they themselves need help or any situation like that. They can send us a message through the website or they're on Facebook or on Instagram. Because the other big thing is that a lot of people were terrified. I talked to a buddy that suicide prevention hotline, a lot of those dudes, all they do is they just call the police and have them immediately show up. And that adds that other fear factor in, so they could talk to somebody that's been through it. And then I talked to dudes every other day. the website they can email or messages through, and that's connected directly to me. And the same thing with the Instagram page and the course stroke page, both connected straight to me.
Scott DeLuzio 00:49:21 Wonderful. So I will have, again, all the links to the website and social media, in the show notes for this episode, Please reach out, If you are struggling with anything and you need help,. You don't, you don't want to, Make, make any permanent decisions and make, make the wrong decision there. So, um, definitely reach out. There's definitely a better future I had out there for, for all of us. So, um, thank you again, Christopher for Joining me.
Scott DeLuzio 00:49:57 And, and, and keep doing what you're doing. because I think it's really important work., it's really going to help improve some lives. Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website driveonpodcast.com. We're also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at driveonpodcast.
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