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Family, tribal programs put David Osceola on sober, happy, grateful path

David Osceola

HOLLYWOOD — After years and years of addiction problems, David Osceola has his life back on the right track thanks to his family and a group of support services in the Seminole Tribe, led by the Guardianship Department.

(This article has been edited for brevity and clarity).

Tribune: Why did you seek assistance from the tribe’s Guardianship Department?

David Osceola: Back [when] it was Family Services and on multiple times I was one of those that had gone in and failed, gone in and failed, and I got to the point in my life…there’s a saying ‘I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.’ Luckily, I have two fabulous daughters who are adults now. They started to get concerned for my life because I have health problems, also. They took it upon themselves, with advice from my sister, to do what they call a Marchman Act, which means that they had the assistance of [Seminole Police Department] and the Seminole courts, and they had me put into treatment, detox, and from there I went before a judge and then they put me in a facility for 90 days and from there I went into another program for a month. From there, I transitioned back into my home with the assistance of Guardianship overseeing every step of my life, which has been fabulous…If it wasn’t for [my daughters] and the love they have for me, I may at this time probably be dead…I could never give enough praise to my daughters for having the courage to do what they did.

Tribune: What was required of you to enter the program?

David Osceola: I went in through Marchman Act, so my requirements were whatever the Guardianship, Family Services, and my family deemed, and the judge is ultimately the one that decided that this person needs more help.

Tribune: What did the Guardianship program do for you?

David Osceola: They did everything for me. I’m going on 60 years old this August. I’ve raised kids, I’ve had life, I’ve had my own businesses, I’ve done everything, but once you get into that drug-infested, alcohol-dependent life where you are dependent on a thing, your senses go out the window. [Guardianship] helped me start making good decisions on my own. Sometimes when you’re in that drug-filled world and alcohol and addiction, your decisions are based on that addictive world. [Guardianship] helped me manage my feelings, going to meetings. Also, We Do Recover was a big help. Charlie, Kenny, those were guys that stepped up and helped me and guided me to meetings around here. They have our own meetings on the reservation and they got me involved. Guardianship, with the help of Millie [Mildred Ibarra], was a big help…They helped me make decisions and guide me to the next steps to where I am finally today. I have my own bank accounts, I have money, I have my family, I have my kids, my grandkids. Everything that I always hoped for and wished for is all back. Now I can turn to…Family Services, a psychiatrist, Guardianship, We Do Recover, I’ve got people who are willing to help out. It’s a whole support system. If I didn’t have them, it would be just me again. Relying on that old way of thinking has always steered me in the wrong way. I’m kind of addicted to this new way of life, you might say…I just took my kids and grandkids to DisneyWorld and spent everything on my grandkids and had the greatest time in the world.

Tribune: And without this program, you might not have had that week?

David Osceola: I know I wouldn’t have. This program right now is helping me squash all my loans. I’m paying all them off. When you’re in that world and being Seminole, we’re readily available to getting loans, to getting money here and there, which I got caught in that trap. Now, I’m able to pay them all off. I’m about to be 60. I have to think of my future.

Tribune: Would it be accurate to say you are clean and sober?

David Osceola: Absolutely, and I’m very proud of it.

Tribune: In what ways has the Guardianship program helped you?

David Osceola: With the help of Millie, who is my advocate through Guardianship, I can’t put enough praise on her and that whole department…They taught me patience and they kept sticking by me, saying ‘just give it a little more time; we need you to stay sober.’ It taught me that I don’t need immediate gratification. I can just live life today and enjoy it and I know tomorrow is going to be a better day. Next thing I know, I have a vehicle, I have money in the bank. Guardianship has control of my money. They give you cards for shopping, groceries and very little money for [other] spending. I’ve graduated each level of that to where now I have a pile of money in my bank account and I’m saving money…I can see how people can fail in this, but I can also see how somebody who has that feeling of ‘I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired,’ waking up to the same thing every day, to where I can say if I put a little effort into this I may have a chance for something happening and changing in my life.

Tribune: What advice would you give tribal members who are dealing with bad issues?

David Osceola: There are people here with the tribe who are willing to help. I had to put down my defenses. My belief system was protect me, don’t let anyone get too close. When I got sick and tired enough, I allowed to open that door and for people to help. My daughters did that Marchman Act with me; it allowed me to believe that somebody loved me more than me. It gave me the courage to say I can break down the wall and allow people to come in. My kids, I got more out of it than I invested. I get so much more coming back to me, my kids, my grandkids. That, by itself, is the greatest gift of my life right now.

Tribune: Anything else?

David Osceola: I’d also like to thank our [Tribal Council], because if it wasn’t for them sticking up for these programs, we wouldn’t have these programs…If it wasn’t for these programs, a lot of us wouldn’t have a chance. I surely wouldn’t have a chance.

Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at