James Bryan

I joined the Marines in 2000 as a radio operator and was admitted into 3rd Recon Battalion in Okinawa in 2003. Afterwards, I was deployed to the Jolo island chain in the Philippines to perform reconnaissance against the Abu Seif. After I left active duty in 2004 I joined 14th Marine Battalion in Fort Worth, and later volunteered to be attached to 1/24 Weapons Company. I deployed to Iraq in 2006, where I was stationed at Camp Baharia. While in Iraq, I was designated as the Sergeant of the Guard and ran vehicle convoys to the entry control points through and around Fallujah. Shortly after I arrived in country, I witnessed my first vehicle-born IED. The images of my fallen Marine brothers and the carnal damage on display will forever be etched in my mind. As I was transporting one of my injured Marines to the military hospital, I was forced to make some tragic decisions regarding the fates of some Iraqi civilians that blocked our route. The residual ramifications of those decisions were emotionally crippling and almost impossible to bear. Towards the end of my tour in Iraq I had to suffer the loss of another Marine brother as he died in front of me of a gunshot wound from a clandestine sniper. I continued to serve, strong on the outside but torn up on the inside.

When I returned home I was very hateful and angry towards everyone, and I hated and despised myself. I was verbally abusive towards my wife Christina and was not the father Trevor had needed me to be at the time. I was drinking every night and was numbing myself out from everything. I tried to make some changes on my own, but they never stuck and it wasn’t nearly enough to give either of us what we needed. I ended up at Pathways because of an ultimatum from my wife. After she went through the training and I saw the changes in her, I agreed to go through the program. The universe confirmed my decision when I received a half-scholarship at her graduation.

The anger and hate that I have felt for so long has subsided. Guilt and shame have departed and I feel free to be my true self. I feel more loving and soft towards others now, because I finally accepted that I’m deserving of love. I have more love for others, peace in my heart, mindfulness in my actions, and confidence that what I do truly matters. I feel that I have direct control over my life, and the humility to know that I serve a higher purpose. I honestly knew that my passion was helping others and leading, but I was afraid to go all-in for fear of failure and when I did try to lead my attempts always fell short, because I wasn’t giving my full effort. I learned to put away my self-defeating and limiting beliefs because I recognized that the only force standing in my way was myself. I now understand that my life was given to me to serve a higher purpose by serving others.

My life feels real. I have taken responsibility for everything that happens to me, and there are no more excuses for not living the life I deserve. I no longer blame other people for my current and past conditions. I am setting higher goals that most deem impossible or improbable to achieve. I have learned that if I set higher goals and fall short, I will still achieve more than I would have if I had set smaller goals that were average or easy. I have discovered that what you commit to and give your attention to is what you get, and that you must attract the things you want by being the things you want. Once you find your higher purpose, start taking exaggerated steps of action. Whatever amount of effort you think a desired result is going to take, increase that level by 10 times in order to attack with the right amount of effort, and then keep attacking consistently, insistently, and persistently.

After completing my life plan I’ve achieved so many goals that I never expected to come into fruition. I left my previous employer where I was too comfortable. I was given the opportunity to lean into a more challenging role within an organization that is currently on the edge of expanding their footprint, and I am second in command. The owner’s heart is in the right place and we are currently in the process of forming our core values, mission, and vision. I also decided to join the Infragard, which is a partnership between private organizations and the FBI. I am currently enrolled at Western Governors University and am pursuing my Bachelor of Science Degree in Network Administration. Likewise, I have also obtained my CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+ certifications since graduation. My wife and I have, in essence, been “re-married” since we are now different people since Pathways. We actually communicate now and have more intimate time together. Our son Trevor has agreed to go to Pathways come this early summer. We also attended Teen Family Camp, which certainly helped bring us closer. Also, because of the changes my in-laws have seen in me, they both have been through Pathways.

Pathways helped me to become a real, loving, and humble man again. Because of this training I was able to leave behind all of the guilt and shame about the things I’ve done. I have finally cast aside the feelings of hate, anger, and worthlessness that I felt towards myself, which I carried home with me when I returned from Iraq. I was able to fully wash my hands of the past and come all the way home where I truly belong. Because of this training I am able to participate in my life, love my wife again, and be the friend and leader everyone deserves. My Mom has also made the comment that she has gotten her little boy back.