Sgt. Tonja Richard
Tonja Myles/Sgt. Tonja Richard Veteran, Louisiana Army National Guard
Tonja Myles is a local outreach pastor at Love Alive Church, community activist and advocate, peer counselor, sought after counsel for community-based and system approaches, and a military veteran. Sgt. Tonja Richard, her maiden name, served as a military policeman in The Louisiana Army National Guard for nine years. She promotes mental health awareness and rehabilitation with sharing her life experiences of being in recovery from addiction for over 35 years, two-time suicide survivor, as well as a victim of childhood and adult sexual abuse. Her story is shared in published books, magazines, documentaries, and national television series. She is a passionate advocate of humane and ethical treatment of individuals with mental illness.
She has served on several boards and continues her mission as a servant leader in her community serving on The Mayor’s mental health advisory council, Veterans advisory council as well as a member NAMI. She is an active member of The Bridge Center of Hope board, which is the first mental health stabilization unit in the city of Baton Rouge. She is also trained in some of the country’s top suicide prevention programs such as ASSIST, Safetalk, mental health first aid for adults and adolescents, just to name a few. Tonja has received numerous national and local awards and recognition for her work and dedication to changing lives and systems she is passionate about.
Tonja gets her “hand on the pulse of the community “in her role as a weekly radio talk show host on Cumulus media Max 94.1 and 1460 WXOK. She discusses topics related to her listeners’ concerns, with her “real and raw” communication style. Her audience is empowered by intelligent conversations with expert guests, politicians, and community leaders. For 7 years she also hosted a TV talk show called “Choices, empowering you to make better choices so you can live a better life.” Tonja is a well-known local and national speaker. She has spoken on topics related to addiction, trauma, sexual abuse, mental health and suicide in schools, prisons, faith-based conferences, and business training. She is open and honest about her own life experiences in these areas and her path from victim to survivor. Tonja’s message is that proper treatment, family and friend support, faith, and self-care can equate to living a productive life. Her goal is to reduce stigma and bring hope that recovery is real. She says that her greatest accomplishment is being married to her husband Darren, of twenty-five years.