William Dover entered the U.S. Army in the 1980s looking for a direction and vision for his life.
“I wanted to get in there and do something to better myself,” he said. “I went in and made the best of it.”
He served as an aircraft crewman and mechanic for scout observation helicopters and Blackhawks.
“I had loads of fun working on those and flying,” Dover said.
As the country entered into Operation Desert Storm, Dover said he wasn’t sure what to think when he was called up.
“You don’t really think about it,” he said. “You just go through the motions and practice that every day. It’s always possible. The adrenaline started pumping for eight months. It was exciting and kind of scary.”
Dover’s experiences would lead to devastating consequences when he got home, leading to failed marriages, lost friendships and eventually homelessness.
After receiving treatment through the Veterans Affairs and seeking a new path for his life, Dover enrolled in Computer Science classes at Alvin Community College.
“Things are starting to add up and starting to come together,” he said.
When Dover was first stationed in Bahrain during the Gulf War, he served in quick reaction forces and scouting missions.
“We would go in with a Blackhawk, pick up small squads and bring them back,” he said. “That was the primary goal.”
Some of his missions led him to experience traumatic events including violence.
“It’s surprising how you react in those situations,” Dover said. “A lot of what I experienced was friendly fire and some of it was getting caught in the action. There are other things that happened it kind of makes you ticked off.”
After the war ended, Dover was debriefed by the military and he returned home, where he struggled to get his life back on track.
“It wasn’t anybody’s fault, I was just I was dealing with demons that at the time I thought was normal,” he said. “It becomes your normal life once you get out. That becomes your reality no matter where you go after that. It makes you gun shy, so to speak.”
It became a daily obstacle to deal with his trauma and while maintaining his life.
“You feel guilty because you made it and other people didn’t it,” Dover said. “It’s emotional baggage and it’s a roller coaster.”
His troubles lead him to become homeless and living at a veteran shelter. Eventually, Dover sought help and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder. It lead to him receiving treatment for his PTSD but also with physical ailments that he’d developed.
“That’s where I started getting fired up to get my life back together,” he said.
Earning his education and looking forward to joining the workforce has provided Dover with an opportunity to heal. He has been coming to classes with his emotional support dog Alex attending alongside him.
“It’s made me a better person,” he said. “It has been a good experience for me here. It makes me more fired up and come to school.”
When he finishes his education at ACC, Dover said he hopes to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree.
“I am more motivated now than I was and there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
To hear more from Dover, you can listen to his full interview with ACC Podcasts which is available wherever you get podcasts.