My name is Sgt. Kenneth Hawthorne,
I served for six years in the U.S. Army. I grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada coming from a family of seven. I joined the United States Army in 1988. My duty stations were in Friedberg and Mainz, Germany, and Ft. Knox, Kentucky, where I was an Armor Crewman and an M1A1 Tank Commander.
In 2003, I supported the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan where I was a Postal Clerk, Operations Supervisor and a Postmaster for the 139th Postal Company in Wiesbaden, Germany. At that time and before I was dealing with a lot of stress and depression, even though I had a great job at the time. It was hard adjusting to a different culture and language living in Germany for almost 17 years without treatment. In 2007, I returned with my family to the United States and followed up with the Martinsburg VAMC, At that time my psychologist diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Conversion Disorder.
In the summer of 2011, my PTSD almost cost me, my family. I knew that something had to change. I have retired from the United States Government in which I have had several inpatient and outpatient treatments that have allowed me to understand and manage my symptoms. I want to thank the Martinsburg VAMC in showing me the way of getting the tools needed to be a better person, husband, and father.
In December 2012, Paul Wilson and other volunteers introduced me to Fly Fishing and Fly Tying. In March of 2013, I went with Paul on my first trip to Harman Cabins in West Virginia. Since that time, I have been the Program Lead Assistant in which I have been a volunteer and a guide on numerous trips with the Martinsburg Program. In October of 2016, Paul Wilson was leaving the area and asked me to be the new Program Lead for the Martinsburg Program. My mission is to help other disable veterans in my area in the education of fly fishing and fly tying with the assistance of my local Trout Unlimited chapter #38 in Winchester, Virginia. It is time for me to give back and represent the organization. Project Healing Waters saved my life, and it gave me a purpose in life. Along with Horses for Heroes in Hagerstown that gave me the opportunity to work with horses.
When I joined Project Healing Waters, I also joined the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America (AVVA), Chapter 1074 in Martinsburg, West Virginia. I have worked various jobs with the organization in helping veterans, their family, and the community. I am currently the treasurer of AVVA Chapter 1074. My wife Simone Hawthorne has also been an active member of AVVA Chapter 1074 where she is the current President and the chapter’s veteran service representative. She has also spent numerous hours in helping veterans.
Last, given the opportunity to get the skills need to go back to school. I enrolled at Miller-Motte College online through the aid of the David Wynn and Randy Rucker who is my current Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Services, Counselor. I can’t believe that in the Summer of this year I will have my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. Really, with the help of Randy Rucker, I am now able to achieve one of my goals in which I never thought was possible several years ago. Recently, I was accepted, for an internship with General Dynamics. I will be an intern for the next two years while working on my Master’s Degree in Acquisition and Contract Management at Bellevue University.
All of this would not be possible without the strength and support of my wife Simone, and all of my children; Jeremy, Jemaine, Etienne, Adam, Sharice, and Peebles, our toy poodle.