Achieving Her Dreams

Sharlie was always meant to become a U.S. Marine.

She couldn’t wait to finish high school, begin her training, and proudly wear her uniform.

But not everyone shared her vision, and some of her family members pressured her to pursue another career. Sharlie was between a rock and a hard place: chase after her dream of serving her country, or listen to her family?

Overwhelmed and lost, Sharlie decided to run away. But what felt like the biggest mistake of her life soon turned into a bright spot: after running away, Sharlie was referred to LSI’s Bremwood Residential Treatment Center.

Bremwood is one of LSI’s two 24-hour residential treatment centers in Iowa, providing around-the-clock mental health care for some of our state’s most vulnerable children and teens. Sharlie had never been in residential care before, and she remembers feeling upset and confused when she learned she was going to Bremwood.

“I really struggled with communication skills and making bonds with people,” Sharlie says. “When I first got to Bremwood, I wanted to get out as fast as I could.”

But shortly after arriving, Sharlie’s mindset began to change. She participated in voluntary faith-based programming on campus that helped her use music and art to cope with her emotions and learn to express them in a healthy, positive way. While at Bremwood, Sharlie bonded with her team of LSI workers and learned from their leadership skills.

And she knew LSI was in her corner. Despite having to move away from her hometown, Sharlie found her biggest cheerleaders amongst the Bremwood staff, who helped her continue on the path to becoming a Marine, making sure she had transportation to and from drill and encouraging her along the way. Sharlie knew Bremwood was making a difference when others started to see a change in her.

“When I started going back to drill, my recruiter noticed I was doing a lot better. I was less upset, sad, and depressed than when I started,” Sharlie says.

As she continued to improve on and off Bremwood’s campus, she was able to transition to LSI’s Supervised Apartment Living program, move into her own apartment, and begin preparing for adulthood.

In February of this year, Sharlie turned 18 and graduated from Bremwood. It was time for her to move into adult life. But she was ready, thanks to the support and encouragement of her Bremwood team. When boot camp became stressful, she had the coping skills she needed to stay calm and focused, and she felt more confident building relationships with others during her training.

On June 14th, Sharlie’s dream came true.

She graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina as a U.S. Marine. She is pursuing the career she loves, and when she looks back on her journey – one that wasn’t always easy – Sharlie says she is thankful for the role Bremwood played in her life.

“Bremwood is a good place where you can get help, feel safe, and get to build skills,” Sharlie says. “I will forever be grateful that I got the chance to learn from my Bremwood team. I’m thankful for everyone who was involved in getting me to where I am now.”

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