How Two Veterans Helped Each Other With A Second Chance | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

How Two Veterans Helped Each Other With A Second Chance

Play associated audio

Marine Cpl. Paul Wayman and former Navy SEAL Nathanael Roberti met in 2012, after finding themselves in front of a special court for veterans.

The court takes into account the specific struggles that service members face, so the judge gave each of them a choice: go to prison, or enroll in a program that helps veterans readjust to civilian life.

They chose to go through the program, Veterans Village of San Diego, located in a California live-in facility.

The road to that choice was perilous, though. Wayman, 28, served as a scout sniper in Iraq. He was deployed twice, and after each tour, he says, he would be sleep-deprived for months.

"After I got back from my first deployment, I didn't sleep for three days," Wayman says. "I went to one of my seniors, and I was like, 'What do I do?' And he handed me a bottle of rum and a PBR, and he was like, 'Here you go.' "

One night, Wayman heard a friend was killed in Afghanistan. He hit the bars and was pulled over driving home.

"I was obviously highly intoxicated. I had my .45 right there, and the police found the firearm," he says.

That incident landed him in court. "I really needed the help, because you walk though a river, you're going to come out wet," Wayman says.

Roberti needed help, too. His troubles started with bar fights.

"I pulled a knife on four individuals, that's why I ended up in front of a judge," he says. "I mean, we'd come back from these deployments, and I just felt like, I cannot relate to anybody here in the United States anymore."

Roberti had been deployed to Afghanistan and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal. But when he came home, he found it difficult to change his mindset.

"Basically, what the world's telling us is, 'We trained you one way — to go kill bad guys, and now that you're out, you have got to completely change your way of thinking,' " Roberti says. "And how do you do that? How do you switch that around?"

Wayman notes that although they "thrived in hardship," when things become easier in a sense, "we're our own worst enemies because we don't live the quiet, normal life."

Wayman and Roberti connected over their war stories and began to help each other.

"If you wouldn't have been here, I do not know how I would have pulled myself out of the situation I was in. You really came through," Wayman tells Roberti.

Roberti says he's seen Wayman grow, and now they're looking forward to working together on a business to teach military skills as fitness.

Both continue to work through the program and hope to get their charges dismissed by the end of the year.

Audio produced for Weekend Edition by Yasmina Guerda.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

5 Under-The-Radar Reads From Librarian Nancy Pearl

Pearl shares the books she loved this year that you might not have heard of. Her list includes a Hollywood satire, two thrillers, a young adult novel and a nonfiction book about World War I.
NPR

What The Change In U.S.-Cuba Relations Might Mean For Food

The decision to normalize relations is driving all kinds of speculation about American food companies opening up shop in Cuba. But analysts say: Don't expect to see McDonald's there anytime soon.
NPR

3 Business Best-Sellers Show Inequality Is Now The Hot Topic

Many business books try to help you get rich quick. But three of 2014's biggest sellers focused on unfairness and inequality. Economists say expect more: Books on inequality are riding a huge wave.
NPR

U.S. Authorities Investigate, Sony Reels From Computer Hack

The White House has stopped short of naming North Korea as the aggressor in the cyberattack against Sony Pictures. That hack resulted in the cancellation of the film The Interview.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.