Kim, a United States Navy veteran, is finding her purpose in life.

At 17 years old, Kim joined the Navy as her way to gain confidence, travel and attend college. She shared, “I loved everything about it. I had only been to Houston during high school and there I was in Subic Bay, Philippines. It made a country girl like me feel special.”

Then one day, the unthinkable happened to her and she found herself the victim of military sexual trauma. Kim says she was never the same. “To me, life felt over,” she shared. “I didn’t feel confident and I didn’t feel like I belonged in the Navy.”

That year, Kim tried to commit suicide twice.

The Navy later gave Kim a medical discharge and that’s when she came back home to live in Louisiana. Yet, Kim’s pain was too much to bear alone. She began to spiral down into a hole of darkness filled with drug abuse and depression.

She says it was a continuous cycle of turmoil over the next eight years that she couldn’t stop… in and out jail.

Then one day, Kim met Joni Crawford, Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist with Overton Brooks VA Medical Center. Joni introduced Kim to the Veterans Treatment Court program, a partnership with Caddo Parish Probation Department, Caddo Parish Court, the Department of Veteran Affairs and Volunteers of America.

Kim didn’t do well the first time she entered the program. She says she wasn’t ready then and everyone knew it. Fast forward to a few years later and today, Kim is ready.

She credits her relationship with God, her children and her family as her source of strength.

She knew this time in the program would be different. This time, she had purpose. Kim shared, “God was able to touch me in a different way. I had to completely surrender and that’s when everything changed”

Inside the Veterans Treatment Court program, Kim recently received the Helping Hand Award for her service in the community and willingness to be selfless.  Kim will graduate the program soon and said she is “so grateful for this experience, for the accountability and for finding myself again.”

When Kim thinks about her future. She wants to be patient, regain custody of her children and finish her bachelor’s degree in Public Health.

Kim has been sober and free from addiction over a year and now she wants to use her story to touch other lives. “I want to work with women. I can identify more with women who are dealing with addiction, alcoholism, PTSD and trauma. My life is giving back,” Kim shared.

“My only plan is to keep giving back.”