My name is Javier Alvarado. I’m a junior at Baruch, studying Public Affairs. I want to do something in Foreign Policy, either with the United Nations or the State Department. I also work at the V.A. hospital with veterans both young and old. I served eight years in the Navy, in aviation as an electrician doing quality assurance. I did two combat tours in the Persian Gulf. Now, I’m in the Army reserve at the same time as going to school.

I suffer from depression, and I didn’t really know I had it. My last year in the Navy, I went to see a psychologist, but I didn’t tell my supervisor because it was seen as a sign of weakness to get help. That’s the perception that people have, but it’s way off. You wake up in the morning either in a good mood, or you can be upset. I have an adjustment counselor over at the V.A. I talk to her about what’s going on in my life. Depression shouldn’t be taboo to talk about.

One of my biggest therapies is bike riding. I didn’t think too much about riding a bicycle until one day, I was standing in front of bike shop, waiting for a date. And, I decided to buy one. It’s just me and the bicycle and we’re going places. And, just saying to myself, “I’m going to bike ride today,” helps me deal with what’s worrying me.

Giving back is really important to me. I volunteer for Row New York. They get people with physical and cognitive disabilities to row on the lake in Flushing Meadows Park. We have modified rowboats that can seat amputees, people who are paralyzed. A blind guy was one of the best rowers; a 12-year old who was missing both legs was so psyched about getting out on the water. When I’m helping other people, I don’t think about myself or my problems.