VETERAN OF THE WEEK: Ryan Kolakowski

This week’s Veteran of the Week nominee is 33-year-old Marine veteran Ryan Kolakowski. He grew up in Texas and joined the Marine Corps after his high school graduation.  Kolakowski trained in Camp Pendleton and committed four years of his life to serving our great country. In his three deployments to Iraq, Kolakowski was part of the infantry as a Machine Gunner.  He served through Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as the Battle of Fallujah in November and December of 2004. After three deployments to Iraq and mourning the loss of many close friends, Kolakowski had an honorable discharge in 2006. He was awarded with two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals with Combat V’s for heroism in Iraq.

Though never physically impaired overseas, his internal battle scars still affect him today.  In 2015, Kolakowski was married to his current wife, Krizia.  Together they have a one-year-old son along with a 9-year-old daughter from his previous marriage. Furthermore, the past year hasn't been the easiest for he and his family. Kolakowski is still fighting his PTSD and has been getting treatment at the Veteran Affairs in Long Beach throughout this past year. Many people aren't educated enough when it comes to PTSD, and in this case, military-related PTSD. This severe condition has symptoms such as depression, anxiety, irritability and social isolation. It can have many effects on an individual and their personal relationships. However, PTSD is treatable and help is always available through the Veteran Affairs, or through private therapy and counseling.

Kolakowski and his family have experienced much adversity together and are continuing to work through his condition as a team. He works full-time for Orange County while his wife attends to their youngest child. His hard work pays the families bills ever since they bought their first house together just one month ago. With a lot on his plate, Kolakowski still managed to become Employee of the Quarter, pay his families bills on time, go to his VA appointments, make time for date nights, and be a loving and engaging father to his kids. Ryan Kolakowski deserves to be recognized because he has served our country to extreme lengths and continues to fight and serve for more than himself and his family. Through it all, he has sustained a love for football. Though our recognition is no return for the sacrifices Kolakowski has made for our freedoms, the Rams are proud to honor his commitment and service through sharing his story and hope to shed light on others who share similar experiences.