As a wife of a 2-time wounded Veteran of the Iraq & Afghanistan Wars, I know all too well the challenges of loving and living with someone who has been to combat and continues to fight the battle once he gets home. My husband served in Tekrit (COB Speicher), Iraq in 2006-07. He came home totally changed. He was NOT the man I fell in love with and married. I did not know the man who the Army sent home to me. He was distant, unloving, hateful, reclusive, didn't want anything to do with me and our daughter, just wanted to sleep and play video games (war games mostly), got angry about everything, had flashbacks, attacked me in my sleep WHILE HE was asleep (night terrors), attempted multiple affairs (although it wasn't until 2010 that he actually HAD an affair, then again in 2014), etc. He was finally diagnosed with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), depression, and anxiety disorder. He had attempted to take his own life two times in a 3 yrs period (2007 in Iraq and 2010 in Wisconsin). He served, in combat, again in 2012-2013, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where he was blown up by a suicide bomber on March 2, 2013 and was nearly killed. He received a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and his PTSD was worsened, as is expected. He came home with a ton of health issues related to the TBI. He is almost 35 yrs old, and he now has SEVERE PTSD (so bad that the Army medically retired him at the highest rating possible for a retirement with PTSD and so bad that he's been hospitalized in inpatient psych 3 times now), multiple TBIs (one from each tour- the 1st one was never diagnosed or found until he received the 2nd one in Afghanistan), TBI-induced migraines, TBI-induced hypothyroidism (he has to take medication for the rest of his life so that his thyroid function will be managed), TBI-induced tinnitus (ringing in the ears), brain damage that includes damage to the portion of his brain that controls anger & rage (he has to take medication for the rest of his life so that his anger & rage can be controlled) and cognition & memory/recall (he has memory problems and problems with understanding information that is told to him or that he reads). The man I fell in love with 9 yrs ago and married 8 yrs ago (our 8 yrs wedding anniversary is March 28th!) was the sweetest, most caring, most faithful, most honest, most loving, family-oriented and fun-loving man I had ever met! The man I am married to now (and live separately from as of last week) is uncaring most times, is very dishonest with me, has cheated on me with other women, has abused drugs & alcohol, has told me many times he doesn't love me or that he hates me (always when he's enraged or having an affair), has evaded me and our kids many times, has emotionally neglected me and our kids many times, is emotionally disconnected from me most times, tells me that he no longer "feels" love for me, is unmotivated to get out and do things to stay active unless I make him do it, lacks initiative, can't remember to takes his meds/brush his teeth/or take a shower without my reminding him or his setting a reminder alarm on his cell phone; yet through all the bad with him, I still love him with all my heart. He may not be the man I married, but he didn't ask for this to happen to him either. His actions tell the story of his combat experiences. He killed and watched others kill. He had people trying to kill him. He was shot at. He was blown up. He had a live grenade thrown in his lap. He had buddies die. He watched children die and be tortured. He watched a vehicle (with people inside) get blown up by an IED and he saw people coming out of the vehicle while on fire. He saw people get projectile shrapnel shot into their body. He lived everyday of 2 deployments not knowing if he would come home alive or in one piece. With all the trauma and chaos that he survived, I can't (nor can anyone else) expect him to NOT be changed and a be a different person. Trauma, no matter what the cause, changes people forever. For all the problems we have had with him since his return from 2 combat deployments, we have also experienced happy and loving moments with him. He may not tell me he loves me like he used to, but when he reaches for my hand with hesitation, while we are sitting in church; or when he reaches to kiss me on my forehead like he did when we were dating; or when I catch him looking at me and smiling...then I know...somewhere deep inside this war-torn body and soul, is the man I fell in love with, and I hope that one day he will have the strength to realize how important he is to me and our kids.
My story...our story...is very common in the wounded warrior community. Unfortunately, this same story can also end in divorce or by suicide (for either the Veteran or his/her caregiver). Until our government realizes that our Veterans and their families deserve to be treated with more respect and honor than what they are, and until they realize that they have way too many Veterans not getting the help they need when they come home, yet they continue to send money to other countries instead of helping these Veterans, then this story of mine will continue to be in vain...and so will the stories of millions of others.
Please read the story at this link. Help support our Veterans and their families!