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A Vietnam Combat Veteran to Author and Salsa Maker

Updated: Jan 2




Stephen Paul Campos is the published author, a disabled veteran and Salsa maker! His journey is one of failure and spiritual awakening into sharing his experiences through his books and homemade family salsa.



A Life of Service: From Soldier to Disco mania and working for Campos Foods

Stephen enlisted in the US Army in 1967. He trained in combat and then was sent to Vietnam with the 199th. Light Infantry Brigade from April 3, 1968, to April 3, 1969. After his tour in Vietnam, he was sent to the 1st. Division (Big Red One) and completed his enlistment. In 1970, he returned home, and he set out on a path of alcohol abuse, tried to forget about his military service and intergrade into society. During the 1960's the American public treated its war hero's by call them losers and baby killers. Stephen escaped into a world of drinking, working, partying and a lifestyle of trying to fit into the "American Dream".

Back to work after his service at Campos Foods

Stephen went back to work for his father at Campos Foods and opened a restaurant Senor Campos franchise but his partying and indulging with women took its toll on him. He didn't know that he had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder until years later.

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The Power of Resilience: Overcoming Challenges

In 1982, he had two drunk driving arrests and had to attend Alcoholics Meetings during one year with a program called C.A.R.E. School (Center for Alcohol Recovery Education). Later, that year in 1982, he hit his rock bottom and fell into a state of extreme anxiety and depression. On the verge of insanity one night, he called out for help. He asked, "God for help". In the wee morning hours on January 9th around 2am Stephen had a Spiritual Awakening that saved his life and put him on a path of sobriety, that he still is on today.

A Journey in Words

"All I can tell you is that I cried out to God to help me, and he did! I started going A.A. meetings. I made 90 meetings in 90 days and then started to go to church. My whole life changed. In 2004, I got divorced and moved from California to live with my brother Roger and his wife in Baltimore, Maryland. I continued to go to church and practice the 12 Steps to Recovery and then I received a phone call from my buddy Jim Dyckhoff, who was my best buddy in Vietnam. He told me he had found our other combat buddy Eric Yingst who was living close to me in Harrisburg, PA.

A Trio's Journey

I was reluctant to call Eric since, it had been almost forty years later, and I still had never talked about my military service and combat duty in Vietnam to anyone. Later that week I finally called him. Wow, it was like old times! "How are you doing Big Buddy-Ten Four, Over and Out", Eric said, and he waited for my reply? I was shocked and caught off guard, but I responded "I'm doing fine"! Eric invited me to attend his church for a service in November 2004.

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The Power of Resilience: Overcoming Challenges

In 1982, he had two drunk driving arrests and had to attend Alcoholics Meetings during one year with a program called C.A.R.E. School (Center for Alcohol Recovery Education). Later, that year in 1982, I hit "rock bottom" and fell into a state of extreme anxiety and depression. On the verge of insanity, I called out for help. I asked, "God to help me". In the wee morning hours on January 9th around 2am I had a Spiritual Awakening that is hard to explain. It saved me and put me on a path of sobriety, that I still live today.

A Journey in Words

"All I can tell you is that cried out to God for help, and he heard me! I started going to A.A. meetings the very next day and then started to go to church. My whole life changed. In 2004, I got divorced and moved from California to live with my brother Roger and his wife in Baltimore, Maryland. I continued to go to church and practice the 12 Steps to Recovery and then I received a phone call from my Vietnam combat buddy Jim Dyckhoff. He was my closest friends in Vietnam. He told me he had found our other combat buddy Eric Yingst phone number, who was living close to me in Harrisburg, PA. and asked me to call him.

A Trio's Journey

I was reluctant to call Eric since, it had been almost forty years later, and I still had never talked about my military service and combat duty in Vietnam to anyone. Later that week I finally called him. Wow, it was like old times! "How are you doing Big Buddy-Ten Four, Over and Out", Eric said, and he waited for my reply? I was shocked and caught off guard, but I responded I'm doing fine! Eric invited me to attend his church for a service in November 2004.


Meet Stephen Campos: A Veteran and Author

In 2005, the three of us met together for the very first time in thirty-seven years. We were met by a newspaper reporter from the Washington Post and photographer at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. They took our story and took pictures. Wow, what an experience. I was so thankful for being in the moment in time standing next to my combat buddies.


After that day I felt so proud to have served that I wanted to share my story with other Vietnam Veterans. I was encouraged by my girlfriend Kathy (now wife) to write about my experiences.


Fresh in my mind was my story. It spilled out in my mind, and I experienced every emotion as if I was living it, as I had done in 1968. The words poured out of my soul. There were still so many- many, Vietnam Veterans, who were still in denial and didn't want to talk about their service. I felt compelled to write my story.


In 2009, I published my first book titled "Charlie Doesn't Live Here Anymore". I wanted to share my experiences with other veterans and the general public who didn't know much about the war. I shared how I was able to get sober in A.A., and me going back to church where I studied the Bible. My entire life was changed. But it wasn't until 2006, that I finally got help with some of my health issues in the V.A. Healthcare system.


"So, today, my sobriety, my books and love for my father's delicious salsa, have led me on this path. It is my path of passion about my mission to spread the word about how I was able to overcome my alcohol dysfunction and help others through my books and also taste my father's delicious Restaurant Style Salsa at https://www.senorcampossalsa.com



The owner of Senor Campos Salsa.com

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