Hometown Heroes - James Johnson

Iraq War veteran
Published: Jun. 22, 2023 at 3:28 AM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - A Lake Charles man who was severely wounded in the war in Iraq overcame many obstacles, including the loss of his daughter, to get get where he is today. Former National Guardsman James Johnson got through his pain by writing.

“It feels like nobody understands,” said Johnson. “It feels like you’re alone. It feels like I’m the only one going through this. You question, “Am I going crazy? Why do I think all these things? What’s happening?” But the truth is, you’re not. You’re not alone. There is absolutely help out there.”

Severely wounded in 2005 by an IED in the Iraq War, Johnson spent over a year recovering from his wounds. In 2019, he lost his 19 year old daughter Gracie after a long battle with leukemia. So he wrote down his thoughts, which resulted in the book, “How to Change the Weather.”

“I wrote it in 2020, as I was trying to make sense of the loss of Gracie and what to do next in life. Of course the world, we were in such chaos in 2020 as it was. Of course, we all knew what 2020 turned out to be for all of us here locally.”

James says writing the book helped him overcome adversity by changing himself.

“I was very fortunate after the war that I did go through a lot of counseling through the VA and I had a great experience with that. I was very fortunate. It helped me get where I am today. In fact, it inspired me after that to go back to school myself and I’m almost finished with my Masters in clinical mental health counseling.”

Veterans like Johnson will be honored at the Lake Charles Mayor’s Armed Forces Commission “Patriots Ball” on Saturday, July 1, 2023. There are still a limited number of tickets available at the Lake Charles Civic Center Box Office.