Episode #11: The War Commuter: One Veteran’s Journey from Home to the Front Lines

Welcome to the Stronger Families Podcast, a space for candid conversations with real heroes that sheds light on the side of things not glorified in the media. In each episode, we learn about what goes on when these heroes go home, so that together we can build a stronger family. Today, Noel Meador, host and CEO of Stronger Families, joins co-host Keni Thomas for a conversation with former Army Ranger Brandon Young.  Like Keni, Brandon is a service veteran of the 75th Ranger Regiment, and he brings to the show a compelling story of struggle and redemption.

Brandon took a fast track into the military, transitioning after high school from his abusive upbringing into the Army.  The story of his family and service become closely entwined, as 9/11, his marriage and the birth of his first child, and his departure for extended tours of service piled on top of each other.  Brandon became a “war commuter”; he was only home for 3 months out of his first 3 years of marriage, and missed the birth of his first baby.  He decided that he wanted to manage his family life well, and so after his frenzied start, he took steps to be more present. Eventually, after 11 years of service, he retired from the military. 

Retirement opened the door for a new set of problems to emerge, though, as Brandon had to learn how to take off layers of armor.  He didn’t ask for help, and he didn’t want any behavioral health notes in his records.  So, his PTSD, TBIs, and exacerbating sleep apnea and musculoskeletal damage went undiagnosed for 6 more years.  The initial approach of repression was, unsurprisingly, an ineffective way to get into the swing of family life.  Brandon and his wife, Kelly, only made it through these years through stubbornness, grit, and determination, along with a dose of social pressure.  Faith wasn’t really a factor, though Brandon’s belief in God and questions about faith persisted over the years.

As he reached the end of his rope, a conversation with a fellow vet at a Ranger competition and other discussions about faith with his Army brothers eventually led Brandon to give his life to Christ in 2012.  Kelly did the same, and the two of them joined a church and began to experience true change in their lives and marriage.  Change for Brandon was both immediate and a process, as his conversion saw him made new in an instant, but still needing to go on a long journey of learning and growing through surrender.  Part of this journey involved seeking help for his unresolved behavioral health issues, and trading a performance mindset for a wellness mindset.

On the family front, Brandon and Kelly experienced redemption in their marriage as they got involved with a ministry called Reengage, worked through the issues between them in the context of community, and were “married” again.  Even now, it’s hard to keep pressing forward in his journey, Brandon says, but he can see that he’s a better man than he ever was while in the military, and he is living proof that surrendering one’s carefully controlled persona in order to get help when things aren’t working is truly life-giving.

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0:42 – Welcome to this episode with Brandon Young!

4:10 – Diving into Brandon’s story, starting with him joining the military.

8:59 – What held Brandon and Kelly’s marriage together?

11:57 – On healing and redemption

17:47 – Did everything just change after Brandon gave his life to Christ?

28:12 – Brandon shares his reaction to being diagnosed with PTSD.

35:03 – The importance of surrender

42:33 – Conversation transitions to healing in Brandon’s family.

49:11 – An invitation to reach out to Stronger Families, and Noel and Keni’s final thoughts


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