Local Marine veteran encourages first responders with PTSD to seek help

Michael O’Dell has gotten a second chance at life after his own battle with addiction. He’s hoping other veterans will seek help if they need assistance with PTSD.

SAN ANTONIO — June is PTSD awareness month and millions of people suffer with the disorder. Michael O’Dell a local Marine veteran is sharing his story of how he overcame substance abuse and prison.

“Fitness is one of the ways I get to challenge myself,” O’Dell said. “It’s tangible. I’m not just reading a book, I’m not just going to a meeting.”

It’s discipline that drives this former marine to encourage others to heal.

“When I got out of the Marine Corps in 2010 and I struggled severely with substance abuse. I struggled severely with PTSD. Moral injuries, survivor’s guilt, all of those things that come along with it,” O’Dell said.

Eventually O’Dell ended up going to prison for two years for substance abuse. He was released in 2018 and returned home to Bandera.

“Where Warriors Heart is located,” he said. “I found the owner in the gym, CrossFit gym. And they heard my story, heard that I was in recovery and just trying to change my life. And offered me a job.”

For three years, the father of three served as an admissions advocate until he was promoted to command executive director of Warriors Heart.

“My job was to answer the phone when a veteran or first responder is in crisis and they don’t know where to turn,” O’Dell said. “Some of them might be ready to end their life.”

His mission: to help active-duty and former military, veterans and first responders out of their darkest times.

“I say sheep dog, because they are protectors of the flock, they’re so focused on taking care of their family their loved ones, their community, their nation, that they forget about their self,” he said.

Hoping to bridge that gap and be a voice for the silent, O’Dell is sharing his story.

“If there would have been somebody like me back then, I think things would have turned out a little differently, but I’m also very thankful that they didn’t,” he said. “I went to prison in 2016 and that’s the same year Warriors Heart opened.”

Being at the right place at the right time with the right people.

O’Dell’s next feat is supporting a Task Force Expedition mission to Mount Kilimanjaro which will support the Frontline Healing Foundation and five veteran non-profits.

“So the journey we’re on is to raise awareness to these organizations that are actually making an impact,” O’Dell said. “That’s what matters most, the summit is just the icing on the cake.”


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