Dennis Funtila Story

This is my first deployment. I'm 18 years old, and I'm manning a 240 [INAUDIBLE] weapon on the truck. And hypervigilance-- you know, I'm looking to my left, to my right. I was mainly on the gunner stand. There's not a day, there's not a minute out there, where I cannot keep my eyes off the road. I had my eyes set on the Marine Corps. I could sign up at 17 and that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to serve. And I wanted to be a marine that bad. I was the youngest recruit in boot camp. 

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So I was going to Iraq for my first time. I knew I wasn't ready, but as a marine, there will be no room for excuses. And I did not know what I was getting myself into. 

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They can't just substitute another marine to go back on their machine gun. So of course, I was scared, but I didn't want to show it. I met my wife after the first deployment. I was just like, wow, who is this girl in front of me. It was love at first sight. Jenna was born in 2008, so I'd been home for a little while. And just as she's born, I'm getting orders. 

Look, you're eating with daddy. 

For the first year of my daughter's life, I wasn't here. I was in Iraq and I just got promoted. And I'm like, you know what, I'm going to go back to Iraq. I feel safer there. 

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And so I just told him, hey, you know what? Just go up on the machine gun. We're almost home. I'll drive home from here. We received some small arms fire and my gunner got hit unfortunately. And then, it happened just like that. He eventually gets medevaced out of there. And unfortunately, he really did not make it. And it's hard because that was supposed to be me on top of that truck. That was supposed to be me. 

When that PTSD hits him and stuff like that, he tries to hermit himself and he becomes his own worst enemy. 

It's never going to go away. I'm 100% PTSD with severe depression. It's tough. You know, it's tough. I mean, I'm 30 years old and I should have a career already. 

Just nice and smooth. Nice and smooth right now. Really get that reach. So when I first met Dennis, he's not big on crowds. But coming here, it's OK. He feels better every time he comes here-- that he's safe. He doesn't have to look over his shoulder. Or if there's a big sound, he doesn't have to freak out about it. 

My first encounter, I was wearing a Raiders shirt. And then, Elliott came up to me and said, was that shirt on sale. We just ultimately became friends. And then professionally, he trained me. 

There we go, good. And back up. 

It's very hard for me to be around crowded places, public places. 

Let's get one more each. 

My anxiety, my symptoms, tend to go over the limit. 

But this is his sanctuary. He feels a sense of community. You know, he trusts Life Time. 

For me, to bring my family to the club almost every day for the last three years, when I couldn't even bring my family to the park. I couldn't even go to family functions, but yet I can bring my family to Life Time. What's that? Bye. Have fun. 

He's stronger, not just physically. But he's stronger-- 

Love you. 

He's a husband. He's a father. Emotionally, mentally-- he's a lot stronger, tenfold, then when I met him. 

It's that atmosphere that I know I can trust anyone in there. It's starting to make me reach out more into society. I'm starting more right now. It's because of the people that I've met at Life Time-- that they've encouraged me and mentored me to be a better person. 

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