Former Marine Sayku Dudley describes his childhood in Atlanta, Georgia, as rough. As a kid, Sayku was motivated to find a better life for himself.
Sayku started going to softball games and barbeques hosted by local military recruiters and became good friends with one of them.
“As things became worse in my environment,” said Sayku, “I decided to … join the military. As I was deciding which branch of service to go into, I thought the Marines looked the toughest and the fittest. I went into the Marines because I wanted to look like that guy who stood out from the rest.”
After basic training at Paris Island, South Carolina, Sayku was stationed at Twenty-nine Palms, the Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command in California. He spent time in Japan and Mexico before returning to Atlanta to join the Marine Reserves.
After 9/11, Sayku deployed to Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. “I was almost killed,” said Sayku. “But I recovered.” Eventually he came back to Georgia. “My career was cut short at the end,” said Sayku. “I am fighting for medical retirement. I have had multiple personal problems. I have lost stripes. Since 2009, I have been going through the storm of my life.”
Sayku struggles with depression and post-traumatic stress. His financial situation was bleak and he faced having his lights and utilities shut off. He first turned to Wounded Warrior Project for help, and in turn, they referred him to Operation Homefront. Operation Homefront was able to provide the financial assistance he needed during a difficult financial time.
Sakyu request was just one of over 1,700 military families we’ve helped so far this year, and one of 11,000 since our inception in 2012. 89.4% of our 2016 clients surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that OH’s Emergency Assistance Program helps build strong, stable, and secure military families.
Sayku is thankful that things are better now than they were last year. “I was in a mental state that I didn’t know I was in or how to get out. After I left the military, I had problems and haven’t been able to do. This is not where I ever thought I would be.”
To those who donate to OH, Sayku said, “There are not a lot of words. I would rather do than say. I am so very thankful. I am glad that you (OH) was able to help me. Asking for help really checks your pride. I am very thankful for the help, and I am on a new path and thanks to you I can do for now. I definitely know what it’s like to not have. It’s very humbling to be where I am.”
Sayku recently began work at Home Depot part-time. “I haven’t been in the work world for a while,” said Sayku. “This is a new start. I have been on a rocky road filled with debts and family problems. But now I am in a different place and keep remembering how far I came. I am starting over new. This time I am going to succeed either by working multiple jobs or going back to school.”
Join in the conversation with us as we celebrate those veterans among us, by sharing stories of your own. Through Facebook or Twitter, please use the hashtag #11days11stories to share your own inspirational story of a veteran in your life.