My name is Tiffany Lujan. I am thirty-four years old. I’m married with three children. I served in the United States Navy for nine years. I joined on a whim after graduating high school. I had aged out of the foster care system and I wanted to “get away”. Upon boot camp graduation I chose to spend my first three years in Japan.
I was forward deployed and I got to see a dozen other countries. After Japan I chose orders to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to be a detainee guard. After Cuba, I went to Virginia for a year, then left again on a ship that was doing a home-port change from Virginia to California. Shortly after arriving in California I received Individual Augmentee (IA) orders to Afghanistan (an IA is a non-Army person who deploys with the Army). I deployed to Afghanistan for a year. In Afghanistan, I worked as an MATV driver. I had constant underlying feelings of isolation.
After Afghanistan, I returned to my ship and I was unable to function normally. I didn’t want to be there or anywhere. Due to my extreme level of depression, I made the decision to request to separate early. My request was approved, but at the last minute, I changed my mind.
After being approved to stay, I was sent to another ship. Shortly after the ship left port for deployment, I began to feel isolated, depressed and anxious again. I tried to cover the feelings and push through. I met and fell in love with my husband, but no one was able to help me to cope with my internal struggles. Eventually, I felt trapped to the point that I became suicidal. Panic attacks were increasing to daily occurrences. I was flown back to the United States, so I could heal. The U.S. Navy chose to honorably discharge me due to psychological reasons.
The adjustment from military to civilian life has been difficult. My faith in Jesus Christ and my support system has been the foundation of my healing.