Meet Cleo

“There was more going on that I couldn’t see”

I had a good childhood until I was 16, when my mom and dad divorced. My family went through negative changes because of it. I chose to stay with my father, where I was less supervised. I started making small compromises that went against my upbringing when I began hanging out in the streets. I started to smoke cigarettes, later followed by smoking marijuana. Slowly, my life started spiraling out of control. Being under the influence, I continued to make one wrong choice after another. Seeking validation from the streets, I decided to drink and try to be cool with the “fellas” and received a DUI at the age of 17.

Years passed, and I knew I needed to change, so I joined the Army. I served six years and two tours- one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. As an infantryman, my Military Duty Station was II Bravo. I experienced the loss of a sergeant in the first war when we drove over an IED, an Improvised Explosive Devise. I experienced PTSD from that incident. I started back drinking heavily which led to using cocaine to try to cope.
Before I knew it, I was out of control again.

I went through several detox treatment centers to try to get a grip on my life, but cocaine had an even tighter hold on me. I needed professional help. There was more going on that I couldn’t see. I was still suffering from severe PTSD. Cocaine and alcohol were not the answer. Since I served all my six years and had an honorable discharge, my family suggested getting help from the VA hospital for counseling. I was prescribed medication, and I thought things would get better. I thought just by taking the medication for a little while, that I was fixed. So, I stopped taking the medication and slowly the racing thoughts of being in combat came back. So did the drugs. I went through this vicious cycle for years. I eventually ran into some trouble with law enforcement. The judge ordered me to complete a 12-month program. With the help of my family, we reached out to the Rescue Mission. While I was still incarcerated, the Rescue Mission helped to coordinate and schedule me to become a resident here on August 19, 2023. I have been clean and sober since then; all the glory goes to God.

Since coming here, my life has changed tremendously. I don’t rely on my strength and try to handle and figure out everything. I know wholeheartedly to trust in God and listen to His plan by reading the Word as He orders my steps. In the past, I have always tried to handle every obstacle that came my way with my strengths and methods. Now I know I don’t have to handle everything alone. The battle is the Lord’s, and He has already won. I have learned to trust that God has a purpose and plan for my life and to communicate instead of leaning on my understanding. God has strategically put people in my life to help me when I am puzzled. I’ve learned to trust God and trust the process. Everything is according to His plan and purpose for my life—plans to give me hope and a future.

He has used the Mission to provide me with a few tools to make my future a success:

  • Colossians 4:6, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that I may know how to answer everyone.”
  • Before I speak, I try always to remember to ask God. “May the words of my mouth and medication of my heart be pleasing in our sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalms 19:14
  • Small compromises lead to great disasters
  • Think about what I am thinking about. Does this glorify God?
  • Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
  • To forever give Him glory and know that I came from nothing and am nothing without Him. I need to give Him glory in all things – the good and the bad. He is worthy of being praised!
  • I need to have people who hold me accountable and communicate with me regularly, so I won’t feel uncomfortable reaching out for help or advice when adversity comes.
  • Thank you, Rescue Mission of Middle Georgia, for establishing a solid, intimate foundation to carry me throughout my life journey.


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