SHELBY CO, Ala (WIAT) — A Shelby county veteran is using his time off duty, to help his fellow soldiers and first responders dealing with issues such as PTSD and addiction.
Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Chris Stricklin is part of the Warrior’s Heart Foundation.
Colonel Stricklin is enjoying the civilian life at his home in Shelby County, but with his 23 years in the U.S. Air Force, he knows it’s not an easy transition.
“It’s because of what we see, what we do, what we’re asked to do in defense for our country and our liberties that drive us to lock away these emotions and we have to deal with it as some point,” said Stricklin.
That’s why Colonel Stricklin got involved with the Warrior’s Heart foundation.
It’s a facility in Texas that helps soldiers and first responders dealing with issues such as PTSD and addiction.
Part of the healing process is making American flags in wood or other material.
“That is what Warrior’s Heart represents, to get our feelings out and talk to people who understand, and that’s how we open up to the healing process,” said Stricklin.
His family has been through Stricklin’s journey the whole way–the U.S. Air Force thunderbirds, a near-death experience, and living in more than a dozen places.
It influenced his oldest son, now a second lieutenant with the U.S. Army, who reunited with his family today after several months of training
“After 23 years, dragging 4 kids around the world, 18 places, and my son is coming home. He’s a second lieutenant. It’s emotional,” said Stricklin.
The emotion is a huge part of the foundation he’s so dedicated to.
“Just the pride he showed and caring he showed for his military branch really inspired me to be an army officer,” said Zachary Stricklin, Colonel Stricklin’s son.
“We need to make sure we take care of them once they finish taking care of us,” said Stricklin.
This past weekend, Colonel Stricklin held an event in Columbiana where some of those flags were auctioned off.
He said they raised $7,000, something Colonel Stricklin said means so much to him.
For more information on Warrior’s Heart, click here.