Carlos Fodor knew he wanted to join the military from an early age. Growing up watching action movies like Missing In Action and Rambo made fighting the bad guy seem exciting and heroic. By the time he was 12, Fodor had decided he wanted to join the Marines. When he got to high school he convinced some friends to enlist with him. Fodor’s mother also signed a waiver for him to enlist at 17. After high school graduation, Fodor immediately began his military career. But like many young men and women who join the armed forces, Fodor’s expectations and aspirations were changed by the harsh reality of war.
Fodor was a 17 year old still in boot camp on September 11, 2001. The war in Iraq changed all of Fodor’s expectations for a career in the military. He had always known that combat was a possibility, but didn’t expect it to happen so soon. Fodor had planned to spend some time as a reservist, then get his college degree and go into active duty to begin a long military career.
Instead Fodor found himself in Iraq along with many other young men and women. He wasn’t sure what they were fighting for, but knew that he wanted to be the good guy and fight for the right thing. Real combat soon changed his idealistic ideas about war. The movies he’d watched as a kid were nothing like what he was now experiencing.
The first thing Fodor realized was that the non stop action of the movies was quite an exaggeration. Deployment involved a lot of down time and waiting. He also saw firsthand how war destroyed a country, tearing people’s lives and their communities apart in ways that are irreversible. Fodor began to lose faith. He witnessed numerous civilian casualties firsthand and saw how authority figures failed to make the right decisions regarding combat.
By the time Fodor returned home from Iraq, he realized the dream he had since childhood was dead. Suffering with post traumatic stress disorder and feeling bitter and confused, Fodor soon began turning to alcohol more and more to handle the emotional aftermath of the war.
Fodor was drinking daily and becoming violent. He and a group of friends had begun picking fights with other men in the streets for recreation. The practice placed Fodor in some dangerous situations that he says he’s grateful to have lived through.
The sport that helped turn Fodor’s life around
Walking into a martial arts gym one day with a group of friends who were interested in new street fighting techniques ended up changing Fodor’s life. He was inspired by the leadership and discipline of the fighters he saw there. Soon martial arts became the career that Fodor has been looking for. He stopped drinking and street fighting, and turned to the gym instead.
Fodor is now a professional lightweight mixed martial arts fighter. He has taken the skills and values he learned through training to build himself back up from within. He says he always knew he was meant to do some kind of fighting in life, and is glad he has find the right way to do that. Mixed martial arts has given Fodor a way to fight as a good guy and live a healthy life, both inside and out.
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Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.