My name is Shawn Patterson, founder of the Redeemed 22. I am an 8-year U.S. Army veteran with three tours overseas, one to Afghanistan and two to Iraq. I am also a grateful and faithful believer in Jesus Christ. I am the father of 2 beautiful daughters, Sierra and Sophia. I have victory over alcohol, depression, anxiety, and control. I also struggled with my sense of purpose. If those symptoms sound familiar, you know what I am talking about. Most importantly I have given my heart completely over to the care of God and now I am living for Jesus!
The most destructive force the enemy can bring is the attack on one’s heart. Especially to the heart of a child. One of my earliest memories is being molested by a relative at the age of five. To a family that was not living for God the destruction this action left in its wake was devastating. A five year court battle ensued. During those five years I seen the destruction of my mom side of the family, the fights between my parents both verbal and physical and to the eventual divorce. The end of that court battle ended with this man getting off Scott free with him later becoming a youth pastor. John 10:10 says The enemy does not come except to steal kill and destroy. My mother initially got custody of me but that eventually changed do to her toxic lifestyle. She had always chose men in her life over me. My father was my rock. Outside of all this I still lived a pretty normal childhood. My father got me involved in all sports from the time I was able to. My favorite was baseball in which I excelled all the way into high school. High school, where I met my sweetheart; my souls match in another, Natalie. She just didn’t know it yet LOL. The amount of love I have for this woman is only second to the love I now have for God. It was not Natalie and I’s time yet.
9/11 happened. This day put in motion a series of events that forever changed the lives of others, more in particular, mine. I graduated from New Philadelphia in 2003 and left for army basic training in April of 2004 to Fort Sill, OK. From there I attended my A.I.T. (Advanced Individual Training) in Redstone Arsenal, AL. Where I obtained the MOS (military occupation specialty) Of land combat electronic missile systems repair. Just a bunch of military jargon that means I worked on missile systems. Was around this time that Natalie and I fell apart, this was another chapter that took a piece of my heart. So I started living for the flesh. Not in a bad way just not His way. in March to November of 2006 takes me to Afghanistan. 21 years old and seeing on TV, then actually being there is a culture shock like no other. Although God kept me safe through my deployments they were not without danger. In Afghanistan, my company set the record, at that time, for conducting operations in the most provinces. in August 2 days before we were supposed to go home we were told we were not going home but that we were getting extended for three more months, being replaced by the Romanian army, moving to a different area (Ghazni province). we were told that this area hasn’t been occupied by U.S. forces within the past two years and that the area was controlled by the Taliban. The only thing that was at the new base was one strand of constantine wire and hesco basket. The first night there I got put on tower guard during the night. I thought cool, it’s the night, nothing is going to happen LOL boy was I wrong! we ended up getting mortared that night which landed about 500 yards in front of me. The soldier crossed the fob in the other tower came over the radio and said “I can see him, I can see him, I’m going to shoot!” our SOG (Sergeant of the guard) came over the radio and said “you do not have permission to shoot I repeat you do not have permission to shoot!” this had bothered me because at that time the ROE (rules of engagement) stated if you had positive identification of an enemy combatant trying to commit harm or kill you had authorization to shoot. Life on this fob was an experience I’ll never forget. I learned what “welcome to the suck” meant. we slept on cots in tents meant for 12 that normally was filled to about 15. We had no running water, no showers no washer and dryer, no chow hall. We ate MREs(meals ready to eat). We did have porta potties though. To wash our clothes we lined MRE boxes with trash bags and hand washed our clothes, hung them on our tent tie down ropes to dry. for showers we warmed up bottles of water during the day on top of our trucks then during the evening we stood on a pallet and used our poncho as a shower curtain then we had our buddy pour water on us when we asked. It’s times like these that creates the brotherhood. Through the hard times, the attacks. by the time November came around we had finally had the fob built up but it was time for us to go home. We returned back stateside to Fort Polk Louisiana on Thanksgiving Day 2006. The thought of that mortar round hitting me took its toll. I told myself I didn’t want to die alone. This would be the thought that would lead to a lot of unwise decisions. I pretty much married the first thing that paid attention to me. I met her at a local club off base and that was it. Everyone saw she was wrong for me, except me. I’ve always been the one who had to learn from my mistakes, could never listen to anyone’s advice. our marriage was a disaster from the beginning moved in together, furnished the house on credit, not knowing how to take care of credit. I knew this wasn’t for me but I felt like I was backed into a corner didn’t know how to get out and I did not want to be alone. Probably some co-dependency there. as a younger child because of my parents getting a divorce I told myself I was not doing that, so I tried to make it work. To cover this trauma I started using prescription drugs. Percocet, methadone, vicodin which lead to cocaine and a six month addiction. I will say one good thing about my ex-wife, if it wasn’t for her it could have been worse.
November 2007 came my next deployment To Baghdad, Iraq for 15 months. Shelli was pregnant with our first girl Sierra. I sent Shelli home to stay with my dad because she wasn’t that close to her family and didn’t really have anybody to help her. This was the more fun exciting, more action packed deployment but also the most mentally damaging. Incoming and outgoing mortar rounds not knowing which was which, being outside the wire on missions almost every day, gate guard, being a gunner and driver on EOD escort team to resupply missions. Being on EOD escort team was really fun. EOD stands for explosive ordnance disposal. Anytime EOD would get a call about a bomb or weapons cachet that was found by Iraqi police, Iraqi army or coalition forces, we would have 30 minutes to be in full battle rattle mounted in our trucks ready to go on mission. Most of the time we just lived in our uniforms. Once we left the wire we would go out to its location, EOD would determine what it was and what to do with it. Nine times out of 10 we would take it to a secure location and blow it up so nobody could use it.
In March of 2008 A convoy of my brothers that was staying at a different fob was coming back to our base to refit and resupply. They were hit with an EFP(explosively formed penetrator) about 100 yards away from an Iraqi police checkpoint. This dangerous type of IED projects molted copper and basically makes swiss cheese out of our up-armored vehicles. My two good friends Pierson and Tourville were in the vehicle that got hit. Pierson was driving and Tourville was the TC (truck commander). After being hit, the truck was moving slowly off the side of the road. Tourville told Pierson to stop when Pierson said I’m trying I’m trying that’s when he realized Both of his legs were gone. As part of EOD escort team, we were called out to pull extra security while the investigation was going on. Seeing the aftermath of this took its toll on me but not until later in life. There was still a war going on, I had to stay focused.
July, I was able to come home to see the birth of my first child Sierra. this whole experience was so surreal. Came home July 4th 2008 to see Sierra being born three days later. Funny story about her birth, I asked the doctors if I could watch as Shelli was having a scheduled C-section. Doctor said are you gonna be able to handle it. I just laughed and said yeah I just came from Iraq, I’m good LOL. What should have been one of the happiest days of my life, on the inside I was mad at myself for taking that away from Natalie. I had two weeks with Sierra and my family then back to Baghdad I went for the rest of the deployment. I believe my grandpa was there again as my guardian Angel as I returned home safe again on New Year’s Day of 2009. This time coming home, I knew there was a difference in myself. In my attitude quick to anger, always on alert, Anxiety through the roof, nightmares, waking up in the middle of night drenched in sweat. On top of all of this it didn’t help that Shelli had destroyed our finances while I was gone. I still tried to make it work but our relationship was growing in toxicity. I had come down on PCS(permanent change of station) orders, the army had moved us to Fort Stewart, GA. Shelli was now pregnant with our second girl, Sophia. She was born March 18th, 2010. I left for my last deployment the day before Sierra’s second birthday and returned home, safe again, in June of 2011. I called this my paid vacation because all we did was train the Iraqi Army. October 13th my career was over in the Army. there’s that date again. I’ve seen the destruction war leaves in its wake; evil at its purest form. Enemy combatant bodies dead on the road with torn flesh wide open my brothers alive but also torn flesh. People that were trying to help turn against us and killed my brothers. To experiencing life after the military not knowing who I was, not knowing God. Not seeing the uniform every day. Not being around My brothers and sisters, people I know I can trust, who I know have my back and I have theirs. Hearing about my brothers and sisters who I knew and served with commit suicide on social media. I was totally lost in darkness but I was a soldier so I kept moving on. Kept pushing forward. I was still having all the side effects of PTSD while this transition was going on still. The anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, easily startled and the flashbacks. The drinking picked up immensely. I was at a point where I hated myself. It was here all the way till 2016 I was just numb and in isolation. John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” I had made some bad parenting judgments felt like I was backed into a corner with no way out. I was at a breaking point where I was either going to kill myself or kill my wife. Either scenario left my girls without a father. So I began to pray to God to get me out of that situation. I think a lot of us have been there. In answer to my prayers came in the form not so conventional; I believe a true act of God. My ex wife and I were arguing so bad that she pulled a gun on me fully loaded and pointed it at my head all she had to do was pull of the trigger! This loving act by God finally made me snap out of my isolation. I left July 4th 2016 I almost immediately fell back into the arms of my true love, my baby! I knew I was supposed to be with her since day one, playing wiffleball with her and her cousins at her grandparents house. We met up at Applebee’s one evening and cried for the next three days telling each other our stories. October 13th 2018 we were finally married.
From the day I left my ex wife to present day Had to deal with a vindictive ex. From not sending them with clothes when we first separated when I didn’t have any. Luckily Natalie and I were able to immediately get close for them. Trying to stop us from going on vacation with the girls, having the girls call her boyfriend daddy, going through two CPS court cases and losing visitation for two years. And Oh yeah, completely turning my Patterson family against me without even getting my side of the story to include my own father. BUT! That’s when God stepped in! John 3:17 – “For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved.” Romans 8:38-39– For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Matthew 16:25 – For whoever desires to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. I began to love myself again and came to a place of complete surrender to my father! Because of Him I now have victories over my mental state, depression, anxiety, alcohol. Custody restored with my girls! Who now both have given their life to Jesus having been saved and baptized. God has given me a purpose that I never really had before and that is starting my own ministry for my other brothers and sisters; veterans who suffer with PTSD and everything that comes with it to lead them to begin a walk with Jesus Christ and realizing that they can have a better life. All of these victories would not be possible without God’s wonderful grace and the intimacy that we have created together. I never knew I could love someone more than my two girls and Natalie. God is so good! Thank you!
I am a Veteran.
I have seen and done things that many will not understand.
I am a warrior and member of a team spanning the world.
I have served my country proudly and now standby to server my brothers and sisters in arms.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen brother or sister. If they are hurt, I will carry them.
If I can't carry them, I will drag them.
I will help them face their enemies, to include the demons from within.
They are my brothers and they are my sisters.
I AM A VETERAN!