Justin Carlisle enlisted in the Marines in 2004 to be a war fighter and eventually became a mortarman. He deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, in 2005 and Ramadi, Iraq, in 2006. His unit (3/8) sustained 350-plus casualties and 25 killed in those two deployments.
On April 2, 2006, his platoon had three Marines and one Sailor killed by IEDs. One of the Marines was his best friend, who he was with when he died. Because he was in combat, he never had time to process and was out on the next patrol within 18 hours. He was convinced he would not make it through that deployment alive but he did and left the Marines in 2008.
He stayed relatively symptom-free until about a year after he got out, when he isolated himself and drank excessively. It was a very dark period in his life, and he knew he was either going to get help or put an end to this way of living. He started hanging out with a small group of combat veterans, a tribe. He realized what he has been missing in all of these years out of the Marines.
He moved back to Ohio and went to college and became a full time firefighter and paramedic. More recently, he has been involved in veterans nonprofit work, serving on the advisory board and then Executive Director of 38vfr.org, a 501(c)3 non-profit that represents combat veterans.
Through this expedition, he hopes to continue healing from the effects of war while continuing to become a better person and helping other combat veterans do the same. He has found that the truest version of healing has come through shared experiences with other combat veterans and feels that this journey to the top of Mt. Whitney will place him back in a warrior tribe and help him heal from his invisible wounds.