General Hospital’s Maurice Benard once again surprised viewers with a new mental health topic on his video podcast, State Of Mind. The host sat down with Army Veteran and Realtor Daniel Lee Colvin to get an inside look at his service in Kosovo, coming home to divorce, and how he and his ex-wife teamed up to make the healthiest possible life for their daughter.
Daniel Lee Colvin: When War Changes You
Benard (Sonny, GH) introduced Daniel Lee Colvin to his SOM audience and gently peeled back the layers of how he grew up the youngest of six in Bellevue, Ohio, dealt with shyness as a young boy and his fear of abandonment, and tackled his move to California just before 9/11, which infused in the young man a need to serve in some capacity. He signed up with an Army recruiter and found himself amid a conflict in Kosovo.
Colvin described the landscape of the region at the time. “In ’08 and ’09, there was a little bit of a spiritual war between the Orthodox Christians and Muslims because Albanians said, ‘No, Kosovo. You are not a sovereign nation. You belong to us.’ And they said, ‘No,’ and we supported them because they are a part of NATO, so we were there for Operation Enduring Freedom to maintain peace while there was a sovereign declaration between Kosovo and Albania.”
Seeing how the children suffered took a toll on him as a father. “I tell you, the hard part for me is when you go outside the wire at the base. You are wearing Kevlar, carrying an M-16, and it was jarring for me to be walking through villages or towns and see the little kids looking at me.” He shuddered at the feeling. “I was thinking, ‘How in the hell would I feel here in San Diego if we were to see foreign military walking the streets with full battle gear, clips, and magazines and ready to go to war?’
“Eventually, the children will grow up to become parents, and they will have to deal with what they see going through their minds,” he continued. Colvin referred to what is happening in Israel and Palestine right now. “Even today, what happened last weekend, and what is going to continue to happen, is going to be more layers of mental struggle. The people who are seeing the devastation going on in the world right now, you don’t unsee all of that.”
Putting His Daughter First
There was trouble brewing at home even before he was sent overseas. “Before I deployed, there was a lot of training leading up to deployment.” Training meant a lot of time away from home and gearing up mentally to be away from his family. “I started when my daughter was only 5. I knew that I would be away for a year, and she wasn’t going to see me for a year. Honestly, I kind of turned off. I kind of shut down and gave her all my attention. I neglected my wife at the time and almost everyone else. I poured everything into my little one.”
He spoke of the rationale behind his actions. “I was thinking, ‘Maybe this isn’t a high combat zone, but, shoot, you could get killed anywhere now.’ So, I was emotionally shutting off.” Pulling away from his wife led to a divorce when he returned home.
Colvin accepted responsibility. “I think all things happen intentionally. I think there is a divine order and orchestration with things, and we get to use them.” He explained how he came to terms with his actions. “The experiences, we get to use them if we allow ourselves. I didn’t do my part as a husband or a man. I didn’t step in like I should have.”
The divorced couple tackled their situation with grace. “I don’t regret it because we are in a place now where we are friends. We stayed friends even to this day because we agreed after the divorce that it was no longer about us. It’s about her. We wanted to make sure that she has a healthy mentality about us.”
So healed was their wound that they even managed to get together as a blended family. “We hang together on holidays. As a matter of fact, she made a decision that when she met her husband, who was from England — my daughter was 6 when we divorced — and she made the decision to move to England with him, so, I was a single dad, and she helped financially. She paid child support, and I tried to accommodate every Zoom call and telephone call.”
The conversation between the two men flowed easily as Colvin went on to reveal his family’s struggle with anxiety and how it affected him growing up, finding out that he had another sister and how he coped with it. The budding actor spoke of how learning to box helped him in a positive way in all aspects of life and led him to a unique friendship with boxer Ken Shamrock and his family [Benard is also a mutual friend with Frank Shamrock], and how, in fact, he calls Shamrock’s father his West Coast dad. Watch the entire episode here.
If you are a veteran or know someone who is a veteran and needs someone to talk to, go to the Veterans Crisis Line.
To learn more about Daniel Lee Colvin, fans can follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and X/Formerly known as Twitter. To follow State Of Mind and subscribe, go to YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. Fans can now purchase inspirational merchandise for Maurice Benard’s State Of Mind. Check it out.