A Vernon woman whose family has been deeply affected by methamphetamine is waging her second war on drugs.
Vonda Johnson says her story is about faith, hope and the power of Jesus, not about feeling sorry for the Johnson family. Her 35 year old son has suffered from drug addiction for 20 years, she said. He has also been diagnosed with schizophrenic effective bipolar disorder. His mother says, “He hears voices.”
“I believe God has a purpose in life for (him),” Johnson said. “At the age of two, he was playing at Lake Meredith and ran off a cliff, falling about 100 feet into the water.” Johnson’s brother-in-law rescued him. Another life threatening incident occurred several years ago when he rolled his truck eight times near Decatur. “I feel like God protected him during these times, I just don’t know what God’s purpose is,” she said. “But I feel like my purpose in life is to educate others about drugs and how they affect families.”
A girl who grew up with Johnson’s son called her recently wanting help getting off drugs. She had been beaten and had a black eye.
“When she told me about the meth problem in Vernon and how bad it was, I knew I had to do something,” Johnson said.
Incidents like this spurned her to action in a continued fight against drugs. She is working to raise funds for the Vernon/Wilbarger Crime Stoppers organization. She would also like to see the cityhire a drug enforcement officer, purchase additional equipment for the fight on drugs, and purchase a dog trained in drug detection. She was successful in helping to raise funds several years ago when the Retired Teachers Association purchased a drug dog, but the dog was ultimately sold to Iowa Park.
Johnson said Vernon Police Chief Tom Wilson and former Chief Alan Metcalf have done an awesome job cleaning up Vernon, but are limited because of a personnel shortage and budget limitations.
Several years ago, the Johnsons’ daughter saved both Vonda and her husband, Dan, when the son attacked them when he was high on meth.
“She is my hero,” Johnson said.
Drugs have taken a toll on the entire family, according to Johnson, who said that both she and their daughter suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
She said that Wilbarger County authorities wanted to have her son enter North Texas State Hospital for treatment, but he chose to go to jail.
“We felt so helpless, living in a small town where meth was so readily available,” Johnson said. “We did all we could to help our local authorities.”
The Johnson family has not seen their son in five years and are not sure where he is living.
“The last we heard, he was in the Port Aransas area,” his mother said. “We love him with all our hearts, but we also know he can never return to Vernon.”
Help is available in Vernon both at the AA on Indian Street and at the Calvary Baptist Church Celebrate Recovery program, she said.
Johnson said her family has received tremendous support from their friends and family. She said Psalms 31:7 has been her confirmation that God wanted her to do something. The verse reads: “I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul.”
“I’m not telling my story for sympathy.. I just want help to fight against drugs. I can make a difference and I will make a difference,” she said.