Friendship developed in Baghdad continues to grow after veterans return home, face new challenges

The wounds of war brought them together. Illinois National Guardsman Eric Peterson and Marine veteran John Bessermin met while working as contractors in Baghdad.

"We always had each other's backs over there, and it was very important for me to make sure he knew that I still had his back, back here," Eric said.

Soon after coming home, a devastating motorcycle accident left John dependent on painkillers. It soon became an out-of-control addiction.

"Anytime I called, Eric never chastised me for what I was doing, he just showed that unconditional love and support you need to fight through it," John said.

Eric persuaded John to get in-patient care, out of state and away from his partner and four children. A tall task. But it worked.

"My children are my life," said John. "It's something that I want to live for everyday now.  So that way when I'm older I can look back at my life and say yes, I raised these children, and I did the best I could to show them the values that my parents raised me with that led me to join the Marine Corp. so hopefully they have that same drive to be a better person than I was."

Last month, John's American dream became even brighter. He married the love of his life with Eric as the officiant.

"For my family, seeing the way Eric was there for them and helped him, it was a deep relief and a deep love and respect for what Eric gave up because it's a lot to be there for somebody like that," said John's sister, Shanon Harper.

Eric's relationship with John inspired him to create his own non-profit for veterans. It's called Project Headspace and Timing. It operates out of Kankakee County, but Eric helps veterans around the country find happiness and support. You can check out the group at

Check out more of Natalie Bomke's Good News Guarantee stories.