Damon Friedman on A Combat Veteran’s Journey from Afghanistan War PTSD to Serving New York City’s Homeless

Courtesy of Damon Friedman

In 2010, I had a life-changing experience in Afghanistan. I came back from the war with a different perspective, one that may help others at a time when we seem more divided and isolated than ever.

Before I went to Afghanistan, I cared more about myself than other people. But when I came home from the most intense battle I had ever experienced, my heart changed. All of a sudden, I had a deep desire to serve others. I spent a few years healing and dealing with my personal struggles and slowly shifted my focus away from myself.

Then I had an extraordinary opportunity to serve in New York City through a cerebral palsy home, soup kitchen and food bank. It was one of the most impactful experiences I have ever had.

I realized that in order to have meaningful service, you have to listen. Sometimes, the mere act of listening, which for me requires extraordinary patience, can be one of the most valuable forms of action.

I remember meeting a homeless man in the streets of New York City. His name was Travis. We sat down together, and I listened to his story. I learned about where he was from, his family, the obstacles he had faced, and how he eventually became homeless.

His story was very similar to mine. We were both from the inner city. We were both raised in a melting pot. We both had terrible fathers who were always gone. Our mothers both worked extremely hard to make ends meet and keep the family fed.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Damon Friedman