“It’s about the men next to you. And that’s it. That’s all it is.”
That line in Ridley Scott’s acclaimed movie “Black Hawk Down” is holding true for one of the U.S. military’s most fabled special operators.
Hooten is a full-time health care provider at the Orlando VA Medical Center. And he has first-hand experience with the effects of war, including a platoon sergeant he had known early in his career who died by suicide after struggling with PTSD and substance abuse.
“I’ve lost almost as many friends to substance abuse in the form of overdose deaths or death by suicide coupled with substance abuse disorders than those lost in war,” Hooten said.
Hooten, who retired after more than 20 years of service, spent several years after his time on active-duty with the federal Air Marshal Service and as a contractor overseas. But he ultimately decided to work with struggling troops and veterans because of the opioid crisis gripping America.
“In the military, we never want to lose people, but it becomes understandable when we lose people on the battlefield,” Hooten said. “A generation of veterans have survived the horrors of war to come home and commit suicide. I do not want to accept this. I want to do everything I can to make a dent in this problem. Even if this is about saving one person.”