TAMALA K. KARCH
My greatest mentors had big servant hearts. My parents instilled in me the love of serving those in need, having challenges, the troubled and less fortunate. So, it was meant to be that for over sixteen (16) years I served as a Texas classroom teacher for special needs children, physical ed and coaching. The uniqueness of my position was working in a diverse school community where over 95% of the student population was low-income, students of color, at-risk and first generation to graduate from high school. Teaching in this school environment and meeting the needs of these children is what encouraged me to strive to make school meaningful and relevant to all these children. Understanding their challenges and gaps with things like – food, clothing, technology, medicine and income, gave me a sympathetic heart and the determination to serve as an advocate for the under-represented child in education and life. This is where it all began.
Several of my family members and friends enlisted in the military service. I would listen to stories of bravery mixed with accounts of their emotions and sacrifices. It was during this time, that I decided that my skills and love of serving would be an asset to our country. So I enlisted in 1989. My military service and appointments took me to Iraq, Central America and the Continental United States. During my military tenure, I made lifelong friendships. I also experienced scarring and deep traumatizing incidents – sexual abuse, friends and fellow service men and women that lost their lives. To this day, I continue to endure symptoms of PTSD which have had a wounding affect in my life. After 27 years of U.S. Army service, I retired as a Master Sergeant in 2016.
A turning point in my life happened when I attended my first meeting at Healing Warrior Hearts in Milwaukee, WI. During this much-needed time in my life, this program helped me to understand that I have value and that I have much to give. Healing Warrior Hearts exemplified what is in my heart – that all of us have a significance importance in life and that we can reach out for support during those times that we cannot do it on our own.
Other community projects that I have participated in or have served as an officer or staff member include: Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Member of the American Legion, Walking in the Light, Healing Warrior Hearts – Staff, and Dogs of War (of which I have a service dog – Shar that has been my faithful friend throughout my healing years).
The happiest years of my life have been serving my country and community in various ways. It is my intent to continue to give of my talents, skills and sharing of my stories and healing. My experiences- both good and bad - lessons learned and sharing my journey towards my healing heart is the best teaching I have to contribute with past and current veterans, their families and friends.