In combat sports, a cornerman is a coach who assists a fighter during a bout.
Jon Atchison, a Marine Corps veteran and former Louisville Metro Police Dept. officer, said it’s crucial that veterans have someone to carry them through hard times.
“One of the things I noticed was how much COVID affected us not being around and talking to other veterans,” said Atchison, 49. “When that was taken away from all of us, it threw us for a complete loop to where we realized how much we needed other people in our lives.”
Atchison leads a Military and First Responders Support Group for men during Thursday Night Encounter at Southeast’s Blankenbaker Campus from 7:30 to 8:45 p.m. in WC 245.
The group will use resources from Mighty Oaks Foundation, a faith-based veterans service organization offering programs that help veterans get beyond combat trauma.
“Mighty Oaks made a huge change in my life,” Atchison added. “Mighty Oaks teaches you to focus on verses and parts of Scripture that will help you understand the plan that God has for you. We will follow Scripture and the Gospel to literally help people guide their lives through the PTSD, traumatic events or the things that they’re dealing with.”
Atchison evaded his emotions for years before being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2017.
“I saw too many crime scenes. I’ve seen too many things. That’s how I got into church, to be honest with you,” he said. “Part of what I see and deal with on a daily basis is that I kind of carry the memories of these children that no one else cared about. It’s challenging; it makes life difficult.”
Atchison was medically discharged from the Marines due to a lung injury after two years of service, and he served about seven years with the LMPD and Anchorage Police Dept. before he was injured in the line of duty during a foot pursuit.
Though Atchison has mostly recovered physically, he said you don’t ever fully heal emotionally, but you can improve one day at a time. A few years ago, he began meeting with other veterans and first responders to talk about life.
“I’ve learned ways to deal with it now, but I can never say it doesn’t affect me anymore,” Atchison said. “I found that the more I talked to others about my issues, the better I got. I’m not saying I healed myself, but I felt better because when I was talking with them, they shared, too. Everybody seemed to gravitate and embrace it rather than holding it in. They realize they’re not alone.”
Atchison encourages veterans and first responders to share their stories with others.
“If you look at a lot of the problems that face military and first responders, it’s that they drink, use substances or watch porn because that’s their escape for what they saw,” Atchison added. “It takes the church, your boss, your neighbor and everybody to understand what you’re going through. If they understand what you’re going through, they can be a part of your healing. So many of us close the door and don’t tell anybody what’s going on. It’s only a weakness if we don’t talk about it.”
Military and First Responders
When: Thursdays, 7:30 to 8:45 p.m.
Where: WC 245 at the Blankenbaker Campus
Info: (502) 444-1505 or firstname.lastname@example.org