Anthony Droz, 26, is a former Marine corporal.
My friend took this photo on Aug. 29. I was in Bethlehem, Pa., and I had just finished training for the Spartan Race and an overnight 50-mile hike I did to raise awareness about veteran suicides. I’m third-generation military, and my dad, an Army vet, took his life when I was 12.
Between that and three guys I personally served with in Iraq and Afghanistan getting killed in action, I get hit with a lot of survivor’s guilt. It used to be really rough. I’d go to bed with a bottle of Jameson and wake up drinking a beer. I once got into a motorcycle crash hungover.
Then, a few months later, a friend from my 2009 Iraq deployment signed us up for a kayaking trip with veterans like me. That helped me realize how much I missed having a brotherhood. When I got home, I stayed sober. I started training for a Spartan Race, and the obstacle-race community became my brotherhood. Now I run Flatline Fighters, an online community where vets can share their stories, so people know there are reasons not to give up.
—as told to Olivia B. Waxman