Finding new meaning

By Greg Seiter

Military life wasn’t what Greenwood resident Robert Felvus thought it would be. In fact, the experience almost convinced him to take his own life. But now, thanks to the support of friends and family members and a newfound career in the information technology field, he is learning to deal with not only the self-image issues that have haunted him for years but also military-related post-traumatic stress disorder.

Felvus decided to follow a family tradition by enlisting in the U.S. Army in 2011. “All the men back through my great-grandfather had served in one way or another, so it was just assumed that I would follow in my dad’s footsteps,” he says. “I had always struggled with my weight, so after I enlisted, it was a euphoric high when I made it through basic training.”

He chose to become an artillery fire-finder radar operator, providing intelligence on detected enemy rockets and mortar shells. “I’m a bit of a nerd and that job involved a lot of math, so I enjoyed it,” he says. A rough time in the Army led to stress in his marriage before and during the time he was deployed to Afghanistan. Felvus struggled, at one point contemplating ending his own life; he continued to suffer with various psychological issues after receiving an honorable discharge.

He joined the Reserves in 2016 but was eventually released from his service obligations due to a lack of ability to control his weight. Finally, things began to improve for Felvus. He married for the second time and discovered a new potential career path through Veterans Affairs-related counseling sessions.

“A counselor in Indianapolis talked to me about taking computer-related classes through MyComputerCareer. Once I got into it, I found the same sense of family there that I had enjoyed in the Reserves,” he says. Felvus graduated from the program and now works as a lab assistant at the MyComputerCareer Indianapolis campus.

Although it’s smoother sailing, he cautions that PTSD symptoms are insidious. “It’s very important to keep learning about it and to keep an eye on yourself and other battle buddies,” he says.