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Sometimes They Never Come Back

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Sometimes They Never Come Back
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Sometimes military men or women return home from combat zones and are not the person they were before they left home. Military spouses know that they have to be adaptable when their spouse is called for last minute or long term deployments. They also have to adapt to not knowing if their loved one will serve in combat zones that are safe.

As a Veteran and a spouse of an Air Force Flight Nurse, who served in the Iraq War in 2003, I knew he was being put into harm’s way, but I had no idea how he would be affected once he returned home. During the initial Iraq War my spouse’s unit deployed to Kuwait City to care for the wounded in Iraq. Once my spouse returned back home he was twenty plus pounds lighter and was unable to sleep for the first eleven days. I would wake up in the middle of the night watching him pace back and forth across the floor. I would ask him to try and get some sleep and he would say, “I see men and women I cared for suffering from their injuries”. Because of this I knew that my marriage was going to suffer if he did not seek treatment for the Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) he was experiencing. So he agreed to get counseling along with PTSD treatment. He did this for several months until he felt that he no longer needed to go.

As the years went by the silence began to overtake our marriage, and as a result of this we began to grow distant from each other. When we did talk, he would respond with short quick answers and then shut down. As the silence grew between us he would find ways to escape and be away from home. Whether it was long weekends away on fishing trips or football games. He would always find somewhere else to be. I tried to be patient and understanding.  I thought that this might be something he needed to help him heal. I continued with my daily routines and raised my children to participate with me volunteering within the community helping other Veteran organizations. I wanted my children to respect Veterans and to have a better understanding of what our war Veterans have been through serving in war.

After twenty three years of marriage and then coming to a crossroad. I was floored when my husband asked me for a divorce. I questioned why? So, I went and visited a friend of mine who was a Veteran and who had served during that time period, to help me understand what has happened.  Her words resonated with me “You both have given each other a gift. The gift you gave him was to let him go. The gift he gave you was not to let his PTSD destroy you.” In saying this, if I would have known in advance that the man I fell in love with would return home from war a changed man and not the man I once knew. I would have to say that I would not have changed a thing about our life together. We were blessed with two beautiful children and I believe that nothing in life happens by chance, it happens for a reason.

As the years go by, and I listen to others tell their story about their Veteran spouse who served during conflict, I can hear my story being told by them and I can offer them the same comfort that I was given. Although my marriage did not last my life time, the time I did have with my Veteran spouse allowed me the opportunity to raise our children up together. So when I feel sad, I have to remember how blessed I was that my spouse was able to return home. Other spouses did not have that luxury, their Veteran was never given the option to be home again.

~ Warrior Spouse of a Veteran

 Reflections of Life Articles: Winter 2023

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