Edwyn Hector has worked for The Salvation Army for six years.
By Abagail Courtney –
In the U.S. Marine Corps, semper fidelis, or “always faithful,” signifies the dedication and loyalty that individual Marines have for each other and their country, even after leaving service. For Edwyn Hector, that couldn’t be more fitting.
Though he’s now retired from his six-year command as a Reconnaissance man, Hector’s still faithfully serving his fellow comrades. Only now, he’s doing it through his work at The Salvation Army’s shelter.
Shortly after leaving the Marine Corps, Hector found himself a spectator in a civilian world. What he saw were veterans, not unlike himself, wrestling with psychosis, addiction, homelessness and the unresolved traumas that stemmed from military life. Between his military experience and background in psychology, he knew he could make a lasting impact for these men and women but wasn’t sure where to start.
One evening, not long after, he saw a commercial promoting The Salvation Army’s local shelter. It mentioned the facility’s work to help those facing addiction and homelessness. Hector showed up the next day to the shelter with a heart to help and a resume in hand.
Fast-forward six years, Hector is now one of two facilitators in charge of education and training at the shelter and has helped more than 3,000 individuals work through recovery and gain control of their addictions. Much of that work focuses on training thoughts and mindsets through positive reframing and the ability to recognize, accept and manage feelings.
Conquering addiction—a disease that the Surgeon General says will affect one in seven Americans—can be accomplished by consistently practicing these four things, according to Hector: Recognizing your feelings, identifying what they are, processing them and getting back to glad.
“Your actions come from your feelings. We allow a lot of people and places and things to dictate our feelings; this means we allow people, places and things to dictate our lives,” he said.
With that in mind, Hector focuses on the six emotions with which all people are born: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust. Once understood, the goal pivots toward recognizing, identifying, processing and taking responsibility for those emotions in order to avoid a relapse when life gets difficult.
Hector often poses questions during group sessions to help get the proverbial wheels turning: How can somebody make you a certain way? Do your feelings not come from your own mind? Who operates your mind? So where do your feelings come from?
“When they say ‘from me,’ I say ‘there you go—now you aren’t putting it on people, places, things,” he said. “Now you are putting it on your own self and now, what we need to do is practice on changing our perception.’ We can work with that.”
While such exercises have proven immensely helpful to many clients, Hector says the most valuable thing anyone in the program can extract from group sessions is knowing their worth.
“There is not another person on the planet that will ever exist like you again,” he said. “Everything you have on that body of yours is unique, and guess what? Our creator gave that to you to work with—just you—no one else. That’s how priceless you are—that is your worth.”
Many of the men Hector’s worked with at the shelter credit him with helping to kickstart that process. One of them was Dillion Toscano, who landed at the shelter several years ago after racking up a “resume” of 25 years of drug addiction, seven misdemeanors, four felonies.
“I had to learn the difference between sobriety and recovery and understand the emotions behind why I was using all of those years,” Toscano said. “There was one man who was responsible for me understanding that and ultimately being successful in recovery, and that was Edwyn Hector.”
After seeing so many of his friends come back from war without limbs or sight or hearing and still being eternally grateful for every breath given to them, Hector said he’s learned that loving yourself is where healing, peace, and change begin.
“You don’t get a second go around at this thing, so it’s time to be kind to you,” he said. “It’s time to love who you are to the fullest.”
Tallahassee, FL – (October 24, 2018) “I get to see what I used to look like, what I can be like, and what I want to be like, all in the same place,” said ARC graduate and canteen crew member, Clint Bross. After earning a second chance at life through The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC), Clint is now serving on the frontlines of The Salvation Army’s disaster relief operation in Tallahassee, FL.
After serving his country in the U.S. Airforce, Clint struggled with drug and alcohol addiction for several years. By 2011, Clint entered The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Fort Lauderdale, where he not only started living a life of sobriety, but also revived his relationship with God. “I did [other sobriety fellowship programs] but you can only hear so many horror stories. I don’t want to hear horror stories. I wanted to hear positive stories and that’s what the Bible is all about. I started reading it every day at the ARC,” said Clint.
Upon completing the program, Clint became a truck driver for The Salvation Army of Fort Lauderdale, where he gets to transport the very donations that supports the rehabilitation program he graduated from.
Clint has previously served on The Salvation Army’s disaster relief teams for Fort Myers, FL and Puerto Rico. On his second day of providing emergency services for families affected by Hurricane Michael, Clint simultaneously celebrated his seven-year sobriety anniversary.
“I celebrated seven years of sobriety by giving back and that’s awesome. I went from drinking and smoking to standing here, handing out plates…smiling, and giving hope to other people,” said Clint.
In Tallahassee, Clint is currently serving alongside his crew member T.J. Recchione, who also graduated from The Salvation Army’s ARC program in Fort Lauderdale, just two days ago. “It feels great to be able to help people. It feels great to see the gratitude from these people that have that lost so much,” said T.J.
From adult rehabilitation programs to disaster relief services, The Salvation Army is committed to meeting the greatest need.
To help support the disaster relief work of The Salvation Army, donations can be made at www.helpsalvationarmy.org, by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY, by texting STORM to 51555, or by check (designated “2018 Hurricane Season – Michael”) mailed to PO Box 1959, Atlanta, GA 30301.