ACWORTH, Ga. - The events of September 11, 2001 inspired many Americans to enlist in military service. Chris Aguayo was one of them.
“I shipped out for basic training on my 21st birthday,” says the Powder Springs veteran. “I did eight years. Four years with my initial enlistment, did a tour to Iraq, then came home early for shoulder surgery. Moved to Ft. Bragg in 2009, did a full year deployment to Afghanistan there.”
It was while stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina that the Army sergeant received a life-changing invitation.
“In 2009 I had gone through a really, really dark time in my life,” Aguayo says. “Dealing with survivor’s guilt from going home from Iraq early. You know, I felt that I had turned my back and didn’t do my part or do enough for my brothers.”
But at the urging of a friend, Aguayo went out to play some paintball. One experience and he was hooked.
“You can take the — so to speak — violence of war, but at the end, nobody’s dying. There’s no actual trauma. So, you can take your aggression, your anger, out in a positive way.”
Soon, spreading that positivity became Aguayo’s new mission. He created Task Force Legion Milsim, an organization aimed at using paintball to help veterans dealing with PTSD. Today, there are chapters — or, companies — in several states, including here in Georgia.
“A lot of the guys, when you first start talking to them about getting involved in paintball, they’re a little hesitant,” Aguayo says. “By the end of the day, they’re talking, ‘Hey, how can I join? How can I get involved?’”
And asked how that feels — knowing he’s helping others who have gone through similar experiences — Aguayo replies, “I’m humbled. Truly humbled. At the end of the day, this is the legacy that I want to leave behind for my kid. I want him to be able to say, ‘This is what my dad did. This is how he helped other people.’”
For more information on Task Force Legion Milsim — which is open to anybody wanting to join — click over to the organization’s Facebook page here.
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