Consuelo Moore’s Story
Charles came home lost. We had friends who had been on multiple deployments, some divorced, others struggling to deal with it. I didn’t want to be like them. I wanted what we had before. Even though I had taken classes about it, nothing prepared me for what would happen.
Within months of medical retirement, we were homeless and hopeless. My drinking started when Charles was on deployment, but now it was out of control, so I joined an AA program. I didn’t want to live–I wanted out, but I couldn’t abandon him. I had to save myself, then come back for Charles. I couldn’t help anyone until I fixed myself and I couldn’t do it on my own, so I surrendered myself to Jesus.
We sought help at church, but ended up separating for 6 months. I found a women’s ministry and needed to let God work on Charles while I worked on myself. Our kids needed a healthy mom. At 40 years-old, I felt like a child as I learned how to pray for the first time. I thought Charles needed fixing, but I also needed God to fix my heart. Charles saw me changing and I stopped nagging him to get help. He could see I was on stable ground and how it helped our family.
We tried another church program that required a deep commitment, but Charles wasn’t ready for that, so I went alone. These people knew nothing about us, but they welcomed us unconditionally. I’ve never experienced anything like that. They encouraged us to come, even if we sat on opposite sides of the room, and that’s what we did–we were so angry! I had all these emotions and I didn’t understand what happened to him in combat. We began peeling back the layers of our pain and learned about grace.
We discovered Camp Hope for vets with PTSD and Charles signed up. I took care of the home front so he could focus on healing. After that we attended our first Joni & Friends Warrior Getaway, a great program that ministers to the whole family. It opened up a new world of help and support for us. We met a powerful network of new friends on the same journey.
Through them, we connected with Wild Ops. Charles signed up for a trip and received the book “Wild at Heart,” to read. Charles is not a reader, but he really got into it and learned so much. At Wild Ops, he loved the adventure and comradery with other military guys. He witnessed tough men who love Jesus. It made him want more! He came home eager to apply what he had learned.
The difference I see in Wild Ops is what I call After Care—what he received after the trip. It wasn’t everyone going on their merry little way afterward. Guys continued to follow up, asking questions, holding him accountable, feeding into him. Someone would call and say, “I’m reading this scripture and this is what I’m seeing, what do you think?” It’s made him comfortable about getting into the Word and learning with others. He’s no longer alone and forgotten. He once slipped into an awful place and was starting to isolate, but in came texts and emails. It changed everything!
Wild Ops is the brotherhood Charles needs to keep moving forward. We still have a long road ahead of us, but we’re both strong and growing. Wild Ops and Joni and Friends are invaluable to us as we continue our journey with Christ!
Michael “Ziggy” Zingelewicz
Ziggy joined the Marine Corps and was deployed to Iraq for 2 years in 2007 as a Humvee machine gunner. After many fierce battles and close calls, including surviving two IED explosions that destroyed his Humvees, he returned to Camp Pendleton. Haunted by memories and unable to sleep, he began drinking heavily. Diagnosed with PTSD, he entered treatment, was medicated and not allowed to participate in any training or handling of weapons. Worst of all, he was separated from his unit, the brothers he trusted and depended upon.
He exited the Marine Corps in 2010, and thought he was fine, but he was lost. As he put it, “All I knew was how to kill enemies.” What do you do with that in a civilian world? 6 years later, he was self-medicating … drinking more heavily than ever. Even though he had a job and a fiancé, he felt worthless and didn’t care about anything. He left a suicide note to his mother and took a drive in his truck with his loaded .45 caliber handgun on the seat next to him. He doesn’t remember what happened, but awoke in a wrecked truck surrounded by emergency lights and police.
His mother and family intervened. He began getting calls from total strangers—combat veterans like himself, but he didn’t want to talk to them. He’d hang up, but another would call, until one guy said, “I know you don’t want to talk to me, so just shut up and listen!” Ziggy did listen as this stranger told him his own story, no holds barred. He knew first-hand the battle Ziggy was in. He was a Wild Ops veteran.
After his emotions stabilized, they asked Ziggy to join Wild Ops on a 5-day fishing adventure just a few hours from him in Montana. When he met them, he realized these guys were just like him. Ziggy was quiet at first, just listening, as one by one they told their stories in complete detail. They’d been through what he was going through and they had something he wanted. Finally, he sheepishly asked, “How can I get a relationship with God like that?”
Today, Ziggy’s life has been transformed. He found a new band of brothers through Wild Ops. They check in regularly with one another and do Bible studies together. He was baptized and now a year later, he’s married, has a new son and starting in a great career.
In Ziggy’s words, “Without Wild Ops … I wouldn’t be here today. I was on a mission of (self) destruction and Wild Ops deterred me … and gave me a sense of hope and a new way of life.”