Post-military life rewarding but not always smooth

Post-military life rewarding but not always smooth
Post-military life rewarding but not always smooth | Post-military life rewarding but not always smooth

Robin Thrush, Kevin Kelly, Jerry Hendry, Hutchens and Norman Davis. Hutchens, 42, enlisted in the U.S. Army as a senior at Obion County Central High School and has served as a member of the local Tennessee National Guard unit

By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Civilian life is beginning to grow on Shane Hutchens.
The 42-year-old Obion resident graduated from Obion County Central High School in 1990. As a senior there, he enlisted in the U.S. Army.
“As soon as I graduated, I was gone,” he said.
Over the course of the next 22 years, Hutchens’ life was dominated by the military.
From basic training in Sand Hill, Ga., to airborne school and ranger school, Hutchens dove headfirst into military service.
He was stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., and over the course of his military career served in Desert Storm and has served overseas in Korea (twice), Thailand, Honduras, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, Panama, Iraq (twice) and Afghanistan (twice).
“It’s been an interesting career, that’s for sure,” Hutchens said.
He served as a deputy with the Obion County Sheriff’s Department from 2000 to 2009 and until recently was an instructor at the University of Tennessee at Martin’s ROTC program. State budget cuts recently eliminated his position at UTM.
Now, Hutchens is enjoying his first civilian job as a member of the service crew at the Goodyear Service Center on Perkins Street in downtown Union City.
He began work there about two months ago after enrolling in a Vets for Hire program offered through Goodyear.
“It’s been a good transition so far,” he said. “It’s a fun place to work.”
Hutchens is the son of Ronnie Hutchens and Molly Daniel, both of Union City. He is the father of three teenagers — Kayla, Josh and Jasmine Hutchens — and has been married to Dana Hutchens for about five years.
He likes to mention his family as an important part of his transition from military to civilian life, and to dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“She saved my life,” Hutchens said about his wife. “If it hadn’t been for her and the kids, I wouldn’t have made it this far.”
One of the biggest hurdles he has faced as a result of his military service has been dealing with PTSD. He was diagnosed with the disorder at the VA Hospital in Memphis in 2005.
“It is what it is,” Hutchens said during a break from work at the Goodyear Service Center Tuesday afternoon.
He openly talked about dealing with PTSD as an instructor at UTM’s ROTC program and at the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy in Nashville.
“It’s an ongoing thing,” Hutchens said about his PTSD. “It’s one of those things you don’t know you have until you get diagnosed.”
Hutchens said his diagnosis scared him at first, but he said dealing with the disorder has eased his mind.
He said overcoming the perceptions of others was a major hurdle, but he said the best tool he has to deal with PTSD has been talking to others. He said keeping an open line of communication with friends and family has been key to his dealing with the disorder.
“It’s part of me and a part of my life now,” Hutchens said. “It’s opened my eyes as far as what’s important to me. It’s put things in perspective.”
Hutchens said maintaining open lines of communication with his family has brought him closer to them. He said nine out of 10 times, just talking with friends and family members about a problem fixes that problem.
As for his new job at the Goodyear Service Center, Hutchens appears to be fitting in with his service crew and he said he is learning a whole new set of skills.
“These guys have been awesome … patient,” he said with a big smile.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.

Published in The Messenge 4.25.13

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