The Tara Treatment Center Blog

Thankful to Find a Calling in Recovery: Jim Klein, Spencer Medcalf, & ‘Tim’

A Recovery Coach, Restaurant Manager, and Marine Veteran who work for the same (higher) purpose

One of the many benefits of sobriety is gaining the mental clarity to refocus on life’s goals and find a new purpose or meaning.  Here are three examples of successful professionals who found their ‘calling’ in life by working to promote recovery.  While they are in very different lines of work, all of their careers have been uniquely shaped by their dedication this cause.  

The Recovery Coach

addictions
Spencer Medcalf has made his life all about recovery.

Tara Alum Spencer Medcalf’s personal recovery went hand-in-hand with finding a deeper purpose in life

 
After finding recovery himself, Spencer began work with help from connections he made at Tara.  He initially had trouble finding work following his prison sentence, but today is thankful to have met Jim Klein–Manager of Ann’s Restaurant.  Jim offered Spencer a part-time job as a busser, which soon became a full-time job as a server.
 
Today, Spencer works at IU Health as a Recovery Coach.  He is working to implement a successful new addiction services system in local ER’s, and reports finding personal and professional fulfillment in this role.

“I love working for IU Health.  It is a good reminder of where I could easily be if I were to slip.  It has only helped reinforce my own recovery–I need to follow the advice that I give to my fellow recoverees.  It makes me feel grateful that I am not in their shoes or dealing with their specific circumstances.”

The Restaurant Manager

Recovery presents unique challenges to those with career ambitions like Spencer.   Ann’s Restaurant is often an essential first step to gain new experience, impress new people, and build a resume.

Career Development Jim Klein Ann's Restaurant
Jim Klein and his Wife Heather are Ann’s General Manager and Lead Cook

Ann’s is about second Chances

Ann’s Restaurant has been in Tara’s family since 1952.  As the general manager, Jim Klein is an important part of that family.  As Jim puts it, “We are a place of second chances.  We don’t care what you’ve done in the past.  We care what you can do for us and what you can do for yourself“. 

“I can definitely relate to our clients. A few bad choices along the way I would be sitting right with them.  I’ve had a lot of friends go down that path. I was fortunate to have friends and family around me to support and educate me.”

Jim takes a ‘Mr. Miyagi’ approach to his role as manager.  “We usually start people off as dishwashers–simple but good honest work.  Once they’ve regained a bit of that discipline,  we’ll train them to do anything else they may be interested in.  We train them to do anything here at the restaurant.”  

Jim believes that work-ethic fundamentals like being on time, being kind and courteous, and giving your best effort are what eventually lead to success in general–even for ‘the boss’.  For many, working at Ann’s restores these fundamentals.

“At the very least” Jim explains, “we get them re-acclimated to the working world.  We get them used to waking up on time again and being a productive member of society.” 

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The Marine Corps Veteran

Veteran Veteran's

 

Tim (Far Right) notes that a third of the men in this picture lost their lives to suicide

     

        In honor of Veteran’s Day, Tara Treatment Center interviewed a Marine named ‘Tim’.  Tim served our country from 1991 to 2010.  Upon his return home from combat, he found himself battling his own personal demons.  Reader discretion advised:  this post contains vivid imagery of war’s effect on mental health.

       Tim is one of an estimated seven million Americans with PTSD.  Among veterans, prevalence is significantly higher.  Like many who serve our country and protect our freedoms, Tim returned home to meet an unexpected adversary:  Addiction.  

The Long Journey Home

      Eventually Tim was injured in the line of duty and returned home.  “Transitioning to civilian life was crazy.  I was crazy–I had a real bad temper on top of an addiction to alcohol and painkillers“, explains Tim.  He felt tremendously guilty for his actions while intoxicated, and it spiraled onwards from there.  Tim was admitted to a treatment center after attempting to take his own life.  

“I had night terrors and all the symptoms of ptsd.  Getting help for a few weeks probably saved my life.  It was a major turning point for me.  It wasn’t a quick fix, but it allowed me to regain control of my mind and focus on the ‘next-right-thing’.  It gave me a glimpse of how I could get better.

More than that, it allowed me to open up and finally let people know what I went through.  I hadn’t told anyone about what I saw…about my friends.  Keeping all that bottled-up inside was no good.”

Veteran's
 
 

Finding Meaningful Employment

         Since November is also National Career Development Month, we asked Tim to talk about his experience regaining employment as a re-entering veteran. 

  “Its a hard process nowadays.  Society thinks that a diagnosis of PTSD means you’re gonna ‘snap-out’.  As I regained my sobriety, I was able to get a job in the field of mental health–I got the chance to help our community in a special way.  I ended up working for the psychiatric hospital I was admitted to during my rock-bottom.  My experience in treatment really inspired me to help others the same way I was helped.

  Providing this basic service to those suffering from mental illness allowed me to turn my perceived ‘weakness’ into a strength.  I was able to take pride in my work, which allowed me to start taking pride in my self again.”

Tim Today

        Tim has continued to climb the ranks within the field of healthcare and makes a very healthy living lending his skills as a mechanic to a major local hospital. He credits his success to the basic work-ethic values he learned in the military:  work hard, be kind, and be thankful.

        Tim continues to set goals for himself and works towards them everyday.  Every morning, he records any negative things weighing on his conscience from the previous 24 hours.  He then reflects on how to turn any ‘negatives’ into ‘positives’, and begins his day with these goals in mind.  Tim has come a long way, but remains humble:

“Don’t get me wrong, when I drive by a gas station I still need to remind myself what alcohol did to me in order to resist the urge.  Using what I learned from my experience in the military seems to work–I haven’t had a drink in 4 years.”  

Thank you for your service, and congratulations on your accomplishments, Tim!  By telling your story, you help countless other veterans know that they aren’t alone in their struggles with mental health and addiction.

Thank you to each of these three professionals in recovery for sharing their stories and helping us celebrate national recovery month!