My name is Margaret. I am the wife of an Active Duty Soldier. My husband has served 4 tours in Iraq beginning during the invasion of the war. When he returned from the initial invasion he was changed forever, I don't think we realize just how much until later on.
He began to drink, he was angry, he was depressed, he was forgetful, he was everything but the man he left. Less then 1 year later he was preparing to leave for his 2nd tour in Iraq. He had at this point received 2 DUI's and was a mess. He asked for help and was blown off. He was given pills, take these and get on a plane is what they wanted him to do.
He did take them.. He took them all at once. I found him in the bathroom laid in the floor. I was so lucky his battle buddy had stopped by, we were able to get him into a car and to the hospital down the street. When they pumped his stomach and finally got him alert he said I didn't want to die, I just wanted out. Out of his own head and the nightmare in it. He didn't even realize what he was doing to himself.
His Command showed up and did everything within their power to stomp him even further into the ground, people who had not even deployed before to know what he was going thru. People who could go to sleep at night without smelling dead bodies burning and hearing children scream as they were burned or shot to death. People who didn't see blood and body parts every time they closed their eyes were the ones making decisions for his care. They locked him away in a mental ward for 3 days. Then they released him.. Within a month he was on a plane to Iraq again.
This story just repeats with the deployments. During R&R on the 4th deployment I was going thru a file cabinet at home. He was not drinking (he stopped on his own after his 2nd tour he really wanted to try to fix himself). I was stooped down, I'm not sure if I moved the wrong way, but he blacked out and the next thing I know, he has me on the ground like I'm the bad guy.. I was bruised with a broken rib and he had no idea what had happened. I had him put in jail, not because I was upset with him, but because it was the ONLY way I could get his Command to help him.
When they arrested him I called right away to get him out and he spent less then 2
hours in jail. However, he was able to stay on the Rear and get help! I can remember times where he would be clearing the house at night when others slept. One time he was having a nightmare and I was terrified to wake him up. He grabbed me by my ankles and pulled me out of the bed onto the ground I assume he thought he was tieing up the bad guys?
He feels like he is floating in a fog when he is awake if he doesn't have his medications. When he is medicated he can't really function, but he at least can be in the house to watch tv with the kids or sit to have dinner with us. My husband was prepping to leave for his 5th tour this time to Afghanistan when a Dr finally stepped in and said I think you've had enough. His Command was unhappy with this so they put him in for a Medical Board and that's what we are in the middle of now.
My husband has not gone to a store to shop in years, he can't attend ball games with our children unless he can see the field from sitting in our vehicle, he can't go to dinner at a crowded place, he doesn't want people to come to our house to entertain, he doesn't speak to anyone but me.
I am married to my better half, my heart and at 32 years old he is broken. Physically and emotionally broken. He has adhesions on his lungs from the burn pits, he has had numerous invasive procedures on his back from wearing gear that has grinded his bone and discs away, he has no feeling in his left side most times from that putting pressure on his nerve, he has no memory of present events or short term memory, he has no empathy or emotion regarding anything. No conversation whether he is angry, mad or sad is anything but monotone.
He has sleep apnea so bad from breathing issues to the point he needs surgery, he has shin splints and hairline fractures in his feet and legs from deployments, the list just goes on and on... Everyday the Army breaks these boys and then they toss them out with nothing near the pay they are used to, yet so used up at 32.
The Dr doesn't know if he will ever be able to hold another job. If you say you need a mental health eval or you're sick you're shunned, called names and you just aren't allowed, yet they want to know why on average a Service member commits suicide 1 person every single day. One suicide is too many, 1 a day is a travesty.
Our children have suffered thru moves, deployments and now not having a Father, but now they have to worry about possibly not having health care or money to pay the bills at such a young age, because I will have to get us moved, find a job that can support us and then I have to be able to take care of my husband a special needs child, 2 other children all at the same time, because our Country broke my husband. Yet, who's there to advocate for them? There is no one, not here, anyways.
You go to the Army they send you to someone else who keeps passing you around, there is no integrated system at all to help these guys, to track them and know they will be taken care of.. It's such a heartbreak..
The point of my email was that I am so glad that people like yourself just put out the facts, it's happening there isn't anyone tracking it and people need to open their eyes and understand there are underlying causes for many of these men and they need help!