A new generation of veterans is assimilating back into civilian life. Veterans who are young, struggling and wounded. Some of their scars are visible, some are buried deep inside. But they are slowly healing — slowly moving forward — slowly moving back into the job market, back into relationships, back into life.
Garron Guess is one of them.
He grew up in the tiny town of Pierson, Florida, where he helped his family train Paso Fino show horses.
He graduated from DeLand High School and joined the Marines when he was just 18. Two years later, in March of 2005, Guess was deployed to Iraq. In December of that year, Marine Lance Cpl. Guess was in Fallujah when he was shot in the left leg.
This wounded warrior was taken to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, for treatment. While he was there, Guess met President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush. Guess said the president was a “class act” who took his time with the soldiers in the hospital.
“My mom met Laura Bush,” Guess said. “It meant a lot to her.”
But this was just the beginning of his long road back.
Mike Randall, founder of Hopes and Dreams Riding Facility, a full-service treatment facility that specializes in equine therapy for wounded veterans, said, “That man has been through some really tough times and I am so proud of how he’s pulled himself out.”
After trying several different veteran programs, Guess came to Hopes and Dreams. He took his experience working with horses to help retrain some of the therapy horses. He found the horses helped him, too. He used ground work, lunging the horse, to build respect of the horse for the trainer. But through the work, Guess said he started to “open up more in life. It helped me get back with people.” He said that when working with horses, “they feel your body language and you can manipulate the horse with your emotions.” He spent three months at this special ranch outside of Quitman.
Guess said through his transition back into civilian life he has learned it is best for him to stay busy and surround himself with good people. He advises others to “learn to think forward and put yourself into a situation to better yourself. I didn’t always do that,” he admitted.
“My decisions can either help me or hinder me, Mike Randall told me that. I have to make decisions that help me,” Guess reflected.
Today, he’s living in Thomasville at the Wright House, a transitional home for veterans run by DogTagSS.
He is working for Hammer Jammers, a construction company that specializes in historical renovations. Bryan Moore, owner of Hammer Jammers, said Guess is a “‘Straight Marine.’ He’s honest, a hard charger, going to find something to do. He’s a quick learner that can’t stand laziness.”
Hammer Jammers’ Joe Brady said Guess “fit in like a glove.” He said, “He just likes to work, can’t sit still. He has the best work ethic, he’s loyal, tenacious ...”
Moore said, “He’s tremendously good help.”
He joked, “I wouldn’t trade him for a Ford.”
Guess said he hasn’t really made any future plans yet. He’s taking it day by day.
A Floridian at heart, Guess enjoys fishing, diving, surfing ... anything to do with the water, but for now he just wants to work. Always moving forward, never sitting still.