What is life like for a young veteran? To help spread understanding this Veterans Day, MTV is premiering the eye-opening documentary “Got Your 6," November 11 at 5/4c. “Got Your 6,” which is named after a military term that means “I’ve got your back,” looks into the lives of four veterans, including TJ Adams, a young man who received a Purple Heart after being shot in the neck during his deployment in Afghanistan.
Cameras followed him during his brush with death and his transition back into civilian life, all of which can be seen in the documentary. Ahead of the premier, TJ talked about veteran myths, how the government is helping veterans, and what life has been like since the documentary was filmed.
MTV: How did getting wounded in Afghanistan change your outlook on life?
TJ: It actually was a very positive experience for me. I used to be very shy. I was a very reserved person. After that happened, it made me realize, Hey, life is short. It can end at any moment. I lived through this experience, so there’s a reason for that. Enjoy life. Make the most out of it. Don’t sit in the corner and watch everyone else live their life to the fullest. For me, it opened me up and improved my overall quality of life. I appreciate what I have.
MTV: What’s been going on since the documentary was filmed?
TJ: I’ve just been working. I’ve gone through the process of entering the Burbank Police Department. I’m waiting to hear from them, but I passed all their tests, so that’s a good thing. I just want to thank people who support us veterans.
MTV: How is the government currently helping veterans? Do you think there’s more that they can do?
TJ: The best thing that the Army has is the Army Career and Alumni Program. It’s like a whole field they have set up that helps you transition from military life to civilian life. They educate you on resumés, and transferring your experience. It’s a really solid program. The only thing is the time it takes. They do deal with a lot of people.
MTV: How can young people support friends and family who are veterans and just came back from deployment?
TJ: I think just treat them the same way they treated them before. Just because somebody was deployed doesn’t mean they are a completely different person. They’re still that person you grew up with or you’re friends with. That’s what made it easiest for me. When I came back and saw my friends, it was immediately like we were going to go do what we used to do. Just go hang out. It was nice. They were welcoming, you know?
MTV: How can young people support veterans in general?
TJ: I think just taking the time to be a little educated about what goes on. That’s why something like this ["Got Your 6"] is so great, because it gives a realistic perspective from the actual veterans, like, “Hey, this is what happened, this is what our life was like.” It’s important for people to not fall into assumptions made about people in the military. Saying, “Oh, he’s crazy.” Stuff like that. I think the stuff we’re doing with the show is really important.
MTV: What are some misunderstandings about veterans that need to go away?
TJ: I think there's the general assumption that every veteran has PTSD and can’t function in society. It’s harsh, but that’s a heavy assumption people have. It’s like, “Oh, because you were deployed to a combat zone, you have a lot of issues.” That’s not the case. Everyone handles things differently. You accept the fact you’re going into a war voluntarily and you have to have some mental preparation for that. Most people I have served with were very well prepared for what we’d be doing there.
MTV: For you, What are the best and worst parts of being a veteran?
TJ: The best? Well, I have a heavy sense of pride for serving my country. It’s something I dreamed of doing and I’m very happy I was able to. It was an amazing experience.
For negatives ... I wouldn’t say it’s negative, but it’s hard to leave your friends and your family and go somewhere you’ve never been before. For example, I was stationed in Hawaii. I was on an island thousands of miles from everyone I grew up with. Then you go from there to Afghanistan and you’re even further away from everybody. It’s something you have to get used to. It’s a heavy adjustment process. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a difficult thing.