Airman desires to help others after recovery from alcoholism

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Andrea Salazar
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Everyone at some point in their life faces challenges, and recovery can affect everyone differently during and after. Sometimes that challenge can inspire a person to achieve their dreams while also helping others. 


Two years ago, Senior Airman Matthew Fouard, an air traffic controller assigned to the 39th Operations Support Squadron Radar Approach Control (RAPCON), checked himself into Cannon Air Force Base’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program (ADAPT). The program focuses on promoting readiness, health and wellness through the prevention and treatment of substance misuse and abuse. 


“I had trouble dealing with stress from everyday life and work,” said Fouard. “I was not coping with it in healthy ways and I knew something had to change.”


The program educated Fouard and helped address many of the challenges he faced and how to overcome those challenges during his treatment. He learned that he was not alone and had the support of his leadership and the ADAPT staff. 


“I received an incredible amount of support before I came to Incirlik,” said Fouard. “They were very attentive to my needs as well as making sure I would be able to come back to my job. They supported me through a very hard time in my life and I was able to come out on top.”


Since completing the program, Fouard has dedicated himself to pursuing his goal to become a clinical psychologist specializing in addiction and substance abuse.


“I want to get this degree because I want to give back,” said Fouard. “Without counselors, guidance, or any of the support I received when I was in recovery, I wouldn't be here today.”


Fouard began his studies in the military in 2018 under the Liberal Arts degree program at Arizona State University (ASU). After being awarded his Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) degree in air traffic management, he continued to study to complete his bachelor's degree. 


“Recently, I applied and was accepted into the Psychological Sciences program at ASU, which happens to be among the top 10 percent in the nation,” said Fouard. “My intent is to continue in the residency program in the Air Force or continue the doctorate track at ASU to become a clinical psychologist.” 


While he is in a better place now, Fouard reflected on his time during recovery. 


“I went from feeling really bad about myself to feeling much more positive,” said Fouard. “Some days were worse than others but I went from struggling everyday and wondering why I’m even doing this, to being excited to see the new day, harness negative energy and turn it into a positive outlook on things like school, travel, and my job.”


Fouard’s duty as an air traffic controller consists of maneuvering aircraft within Incirlik Air Base’s airspace and the flightline to ensure all Airmen in the air and on the ground remain safe. 


“Working with Fouard is always great,” said Staff Sgt. Thomas Meisel, 39th OSS RAPCON air traffic control watch supervisor. “He gets the job done with a smile while also making everybody laugh. His relationship with our Turkish counterparts is amazing and his interactions with them help further our social bonds on a daily basis.”


This week marks one year and seven months of sobriety for Fouard and the experience has inspired him to not only achieve his goals of becoming a substance abuse counselor, but to also share his story with others. 


“I want to use this opportunity to help somebody else,” said Fouard. “I am extremely grateful for the support and opportunities I’ve received in my career, school and ADAPT. I want to give back and help others. If I am able to help even just one person, that would mean the world to me.”