My name is Marcus Cola. I was born in Fort Stewart Georgia and I am one of nine kids. In 1987 we moved to Germany where my father was stationed in the Army. My family and I stayed there until 1991 when we then moved to California. Then in 1992 we moved to Washington State where I have spent the majority of my life. Throughout my high school years I was part of JROTC. I enlisted in the Army National Guard after high school. I then enrolled at Washington State University where I studied Hospitality Business Management and International Business. I was also part of ROTC. After basic training and Advanced Individual Training, I started my sophomore year of school but two weeks later was pulled out of school and deployed to Iraq. After returning home, I re-enrolled to the university with the attempts to finish my degree, but things were different. I could not focus in class, I was easily annoyed and I felt alone even in a crowd of people. I felt that the world had changed around me but I was not present for that change. Three year had gone by, with failed attempts at returning to school and frustration, I found myself working a graveyard shift frying doughnuts because of its solitude.
In 2006 I was informed that my unit would be deployed again. My girlfriend and I decided to get married before I left. We tried to enjoy the time we had left together but we feared the worst was yet to come. In 2008 I was deployed to Mosul, Iraq where I conducted dismounted patrols, Quick Reaction Force (QRF) and did convoy exports. During that time I had been in close combat and experienced explosions from mortar and RPG attacks. When I returned home I wanted to try to get back to “normal”.
Jaded and confused, I jumped back into the workforce to the only opportunity that was worth trying at that time and from encouragement from my wife. I began training to be an Electrician. After five years of an apprenticeship I became a certified Journeyman Electrician. During my apprenticeship I struggled with my health physically and mentally. I reached out to the Veteran Administration for help but was quickly denied off of misinformation and poor communication. Because of that experience, I didn’t want to even try to get help. My spirit was broken and I was lost, a shell of the man I once was. In turn, I had a hard time opening up to others and pushed away my emotions.
In 2011 my first son was born. He was born early and had to stay in the NICU for a month before coming home. Watching him fight for life made me want to do the same. If not for myself, for him. I decided to go back to the VA with a renewed sense of dedication to get well. In 2014, the VA finally recognized a few of my service connected ailments from my time in the Army. However I was quickly prescribed medication that caused severe panic attacks and high blood pressure. My body ached and I was frustrated that they did not seem to be honestly helping me just prescribing me more pills. I am still trying to work with the VA, but even the thought of having to relive my life over and over every time I go is enough to make me want to stay away.
That fall, my family and I were invited to a new church by some friends. The lure of this church was a population of Veterans. So we gave it a shot. Within the first few minutes of being there I was invited to a Men’s Breakfast at the church. The morning of the breakfast as I was eating with a room of strangers I heard my name get called from across the room with the phrase “Marcus will do it”. Inquisitive about what I was being volunteered for, I joined the group of men standing there. I was then propositioned to build a house. I immediately said yes. When I asked where and when I was told “Mexico” and “we leave tomorrow”. I quickly became discouraged because at that time I had just been laid off of work and did not have any extra money to allow a last minute trip out of the country. It was at this point Sergeant Q told me to step out on faith if I wanted to go. So I called my wife.
24 hours, later I was on a flight to Mexico. The men in the congregation pooled their money together so I could go. And I never looked back. After having such a healing, life changing experience I know it was where God needed me to be at that exact moment in my life. I went to Mexico a second time in 2016 and Cambodia in 2017. I believe in what Q Missions is doing because I have experienced what it can do and share the passion to never leave a brother behind.