Author Interviews

Attacked at Home! A Green Beret’s Survival Story Of The Fort Hood Shooting

“Attacked at Home: A Green Beret’s Survival Story of the Ft. Hood Shooting” is the amazing story about 2nd Lt. John M. Arroyo, Jr., who, on April 2, 2014, was shot in the throat and neck by another soldier who then went
on to kill four soldiers, including himself, and wound sixteen others.

“Attacked at Home: A Green Beret’s Survival Story of the Ft. Hood Shooting” also is about John’s life beginning with his childhood in Southern California including his time spent as a tattooed member of a violent street gang, a hopeless teenage drug addict and then his enlistment in the U.S. Army where he ultimately becomes a Special Forces Green Beret and highly
decorated officer and serves two tours of duty in Afghanistan and one in Iraq.

The book also tells how he uses his Christian faith to protect himself and his fellow Special Forces “Operators” while deployed to the Middle-East and then relies on it to recover from the massive wounds he sustained after being shot on Fort Hood, Texas.

Aaron Griffing had the opportunity to interview Captain John M. Arroyo this past month. Thanks Aaron for the great interview.

When and why did you decide to write Attacked at Home?
In the summer of 2016, I received a phone call from my friend who told me he felt inspired to tell me that I should write a book. But this friend said I feel inspired to tell you that not only are you called to this endeavor, but your wife will also write with you. Your life stories and everything that you two have endured and overcome will be a source of healing for others. I received that phone call when I was driving home from work. I literally went home after receiving that phone call, grabbed a pen, and attempted to sketch out an outline. I didn’t know where to start. I had never written a book before, nor had I ever thought my life would be worthy of a book or my wife’s. I didn’t know what to write, so I just started writing from when I was born and chronologically told my life story.

John with wife, Angel, at Brooke Army Medical Center trying to make sense of their new life just weeks after shooting.

Is there one short story from your book you would like to share?
Yes, I would! I know I lived through what is in the book, but I have been impacted by reading the book myself even though I am intimate with the content.

The story that is so impactful to me is when I explain preparing to get on an Air Force C17 Globe-master for what would be my first flight into combat. What is so impactful is hearing my wife’s version of what transpired on the day I would leave for combat for the first time. I have read several military memoirs, but I have never read one where the spouse gives their perspective. I think this specific story will take servicemen and women back to that moment. Additionally, their spouses are not left out on this one; they too will relate. Every time I read this part in Attacked At Home, tears fill my eyes.

John in Iraq (2007) with Second Battalion, Third Special Forces Group, getting ready to do bad things to bad people.

What is the biggest takeaway that you hope a reader will take from your book?
“Get Up!” I know you might be wondering what does that mean? When I was shot and dying on the ground bleeding out, I audibly heard the words, “Get Up.” Because I listened, I lived! Everyone, especially military men, women, their spouses, and children are all going through something. Some situations are worse than others. Not everyone knows that only six months before I was shot, both my wife’s parents died nine days apart. Even worse, her younger brother lost his life in late October 2011. She lost her brother (2011) and mom and dad (Sep 2013), then I’m on the ground bleeding out. We both lived, not because we figured everything out, but because we merely chose to follow the words I heard on the ground, Get Up. We chose to Get Up on good days and on bad days. I would like everyone to hear my heart, just get up, in the worst or best of situations! Things will get better, I promise!

John and his wife, Angel Arroyo

What other books have inspired you, and why?
The Emotionally Healthy Leader: The cliff notes version of the book is overcoming burnout. The referenced book was required reading for one of my classes in the Master’s program I am currently in.

The author Peter Scazerro shares how he started his career with enthusiasm and boundaries. But over time, the demands of his job and his position at work nearly drove Peter’s wife to leave the marriage and him into depression and burnout.

I loved the book because I saw myself in what Peter was saying. I have told my family, “I am doing this for you!” But the truth is, “I was sacrificing them, and all they wanted was for me to be present.” Here’s the takeaway. Peter asks his readers, “How are skyscrapers built?” They are built by drilling anchors down into the ground at least 25 stories. What was he saying? Your foundation has to be solid, stable, unshakable in order to hold the weight. We must follow the same principles.

John Arroyo experiencing a restored hope and hanging with the then Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley in 2017

Who are the leaders that you look up to?
I really wish I had someone everybody would know, but I don’t. 

The leaders I look up to are the men and women whose name will never be on a marque banner or in lights on a Hollywood poster. 

The leaders I look up to are the mothers and fathers who role out of bed, and before they do anything, grab their Bible and ask God for strength. I look up to the father who I see playing catch with his son or the mother who walks her daughter from house to house selling Girl Scouts cookies. I look up to the leaders who invest in their families.

People might be thinking, “Okay, I understand what he’s saying, but he could not have selected anyone else for this interview?” No! Because if people knew my past, which they will if they read, Attacked At Home, they will understand that I was failing as a parent, and because of my failure, my children suffered.

Retired U.S. Army Capt. John Arroyo addresses Airmen of the 100th Air Refueling Wing during a wing-wide all call addressing suicide awareness at RAF Mildenhall, England, Sept. 5, 2019. Arroyo, a former Green Beret, survived a mass shooting on Fort Hood, Texas, and travels the globe to share his message of second chances. Arroyo regularly pulls from his experiences of addictions, failure and disappointment and entwines a message of resiliency, courage and survival. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brandon Esau)
A panel of six specialists, from right Mary Pat Angelini, CEO of Preferred Behavioral Health, Capt. Doris Ruiz, Director of Psychological Health, Patrick Carney, Veterans Affairs Outreach Specialist, Cpl. Rory Hamill (Ret.), Marine veteran and amputee, Capt. John Arroyo (Ret.), Roever Foundation, and Maj. Gen. Mark Graham (Ret.), Director, Rutgers UBHC call center speak to Soldiers and Airmen in a packed auditorium during the New Jersey National Guard’s 2019 Suicide Prevention Month Observance on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Sept. 25, 2019. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

Now that you have written a book, would you consider writing another in the future?
Yes, I would. However, I don’t want to write books to make a living. I want to write books to set people free from their battles with PTSD, depression, anger, suicidal thoughts, etc. 

The Green Beret motto is De Oppresso Liber which means, Free the Oppressed. I am retired from the military, but the mission continues I want to help those that have suffered trauma, those who are battling PTSD, depression, anxiety, fear, anger, and suicidal thoughts.

John and his wife, Angel Arroyo
A photo of Angel as a survivor and enjoying a restored life. She was instrumental in John’s recovery.

Since publishing the book, what has been your most rewarding experience?

“The positive feedback and how the story has already impacted so many lives.”

Purchase Attacked at Home Here

John Arroyo in uniform

Captain John M. Arroyo U.S. Army (Ret.) lives in Burleson, Texas, with his wife Angel and travels extensively speaking at churches, military installations, civic centers, and schools. His message about resiliency in the face of overwhelming odds has resonated with all of his audiences, and he is a much sought after speaker. His long-held faith has been an integral part of his recovery and continues to be the motivating factor in his life.

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