He gave you his all, and would have given you his life. Now he needs your help.

A military wife (who wishes to remain anonymous) shared this letter with me.  She gave me permission to reprint it** for the public to see, adding:  “Post it on your wall, send it to the Huffington Post or another media outlet, write it on a bathroom stall. If you really think that it will touch someone, make them see what we are going through, then I want to take that chance.

She was able to put the words of every wife who has never been heard, asking the same pleas, into tangible terms that everyone can understand.  Please recognize the bravery that she portrays in sharing her poignant, heartbreaking and TRUE story.

**(Edit to add:  One reader is reprinting this blog entry and sending it to her Congressman.  I LOVE that!  Thank you, Barbara, for taking action on behalf of this family.  To everyone else, feel free to reprint this blog post IN FULL and send it to your Congressional representative if you, too, want to redistribute this in an effective way!)  SEE NOTE BELOW FOR MORE DETAILS AND PERMISSIONS.

Now, moving on to this very powerful letter:

You probably don’t know me. In this case you really don’t need to. I’m just a girl who’s in love, and we’re a dime a dozen.

It’s my husband that I want to introduce to you. I want you to know just who he is and how he got here. Isn’t he handsome? I just love his eyes and his smile. And when he’s in uniform… oooh, boy! Sorry, I got ahead of myself.

My husband wears a uniform because he’s in the military. A Guardsman, actually, with two combat deployments under his belt.

See, he did his tours and he got hurt and he came back to communities that didn’t have any resources set up for him; The nearest base is a hundred miles away and the local doctors don’t have much experience with this sort of thing. He couldn’t talk to his friends because he just doesn’t have the patience to explain things all the time (not to mention not WANTING to explain a lot of those things). He couldn’t talk to his unit because they were all going through the same thing, with the same level of support (being zero). In his mind, he was alone. No one understood. No one understands now. He looks fine, some stiffness in the knees and shoulders, but nothing major. The damage was done to his mind, not his brain, but that entity that makes us “us”, the very thing that gives us personality and life.

He has PTSD.

Just because you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean that those of us who know and love him can’t tell. He hates going out, but he hates sitting at home. His temper, previously considered mythical, is now on a hairtrigger. He avoids people because he doesn’t know what to talk about that won’t scare or disgust them. He forgets simple directions and can’t keep a three-item list in his mind for more than a minute or two. He has nightmares, and, sometimes, he gets violent while he sleeps, thinking that the dream is real and the people around him are the enemy. He doesn’t want to hang out with his friends, because they expect the “old” him to be present. He can’t be that man anymore, or even really remember what he was like before. He’s tired most of the time because sleeping is how he dealt with stress and fear and homesickness when he was overseas. He feels useless and weak. He feels like nothing he did over there means anything, and that he’ll never do anything worthwhile. He has no job. His friends and family moved on while he was gone. No one knows him anymore.

Then, he found drugs.

They make the anxiety go away. They let him stop that voice in his head that tells him he’s not a good person, that he’s tainted now, and doesn’t belong in this world. They let him stop replaying those memories that have burrowed so deeply into his mind that they touch everything else. They let him stop feeling. They give him peace.

He’s tried to stop a few times, but then he’s left alone, without even the drugs to help him cope. It makes all the pain come back. So, he’s stayed an addict, only finding peace in sobriety when he was back overseas, in combat. But each time he returns there are more sins to count, more memories to haunt him, more anger and fear and grief to blot out all other feelings. There are still few support resources for him, and no one to show him another way to cope other than self-hypnosis (the idea of “closing his eyes” doesn’t go with “relaxing” anymore) and taking anti-depressants and sleeping pills.

So, he went back on the drugs.

A few weeks ago, he overdosed on prescription pills. I found him, bile and foam around his mouth, unable to wake up. I’m not the brave one here — I was so scared. After hundreds of days of deployment, thinking that I was going to lose him, that he would never come home to me, and there he was, dying on our living room floor, our dogs howling… our beautiful, beautiful child asleep down the hall.

I did everything right. I called the ambulance and made arrangements for child care. I had to send him to a civilian hospital, because the nearest VA is an hour away, and he wouldn’t have made it. I spoke with the doctors and the nurses, explained how to handle his post-combat issues and telling them everything I knew about his drug abuse. I asked them for help.

“He’s the VA’s problem”, they said.

Today, we went to the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment Program (ADATP) intake appointment. The psychiatrist had her diploma on the wall, a PhD in *Philosophy* (which, incidentally, is the same degree his local therapist has). She told us they don’t have a bed. They don’t know when they’ll have a bed. They told him to go to Narcotics Anonymous, but he’s used the program to find dealers in the past. Secondly, he does not believe in a higher power, a necessary detail for twelve-step programs. I did what I was supposed to do – I told them all of that, and that the drug abuse didn’t start until he came home, that we have had years to realize this is PTSD related. They said it didn’t matter. Then, they told us about the program.

He’ll live in an apartment in a major metro area. He’ll attend classes during the day, Monday through Friday. In the evenings and on the weekends, he can do whatever he wants, come and go as he pleases. He can have cash. He can have a car. They’ll do random drug tests. They’ll provide his meals. They’ll transport him to NA meetings, if he wants to go.

That’s it. That’s the program.

You’re taking him away from an environment where I monitor his prescribed meds so that he can’t trade them for his drugs of preference, handle all the money so he can’t make our financial situation worse than it already is, accompany him whenever he leaves the house so that he can’t meet up with other addicted friends who will give him drugs, keep track of all his appointments and commitments, and be his counselor, his nurse, and his advocate. This is the only way to keep him sober right now, until he learns how to live without drugs. Believe me — I already tried the “trust him to do it on his own” method, not to mention the “tell him what kind of damage he is doing to himself and his family” track. I even tried getting him to turn his will over to God. Those methods didn’t work. He’s not there yet.

I’m here asking you to help us. I’m overwhelmed, trying to take care of my family, take care of my responsibilities, managing him and keeping him safe, dealing with all the other issues that come with being a Wounded Warfighter family while he is still an actively drilling National Guardsman. Our unit is supportive, but they are scattered across the state; they can’t help us. Our families are exhausted from going through this with us, and the goodwill of friends is long gone. I need you to help me get him to the point that he can be trusted to have cash and freedom to go where and when he wants. I need you to help him learn how to cope while he is sober. I thought that was the purpose of rehab — to teach people with substance abuse problems how to live again, not give them more opportunities to use.

He is not just an addict. He is a person. He is a person who is asking for the help that he was promised when he enlisted. He doesn’t want money or pity. He wants peace. We provide intensive psychological care for rapists and murderers, all paid for by the citizens of this country. Why can’t my husband have that? Why are criminals more worthy than he? Why can’t you give him more than some handouts and a urinalysis?

We need your help.

Like I said before, I’m not the special one here, just a girl in love, but you should know that the “dime-a-dozen” comment wasn’t an exaggeration; Despite how alone I feel, there are so many thousands of spouses going through this exact battle. I could leave him to deal with this on his own, take our child and run from all this and start over. Many, many military wives give up and leave, to spare themselves and their children this pain. But I won’t leave this hell, not until my husband and I leave it together. I will not let him become one of tomorrow’s daily Reserve Component suicides, one of the hundreds that kill themselves rather than face civilian life post-combat. I had to let him go before, to fight his battles without me. Not this time.

We can’t do this alone, and our family is falling apart. We don’t need you to babysit him during the day. We need you to rehabilitate him, help him get better. Your entire purpose is to serve those who have served. He gave you his all, and would have given you his life. Tell me, isn’t that worth your best efforts to save his?

Sincerely,
A Wife

 
 

If you found this post helpful or informative, you may also find more helpful topics by visiting my Veteran’s Advocacy page.

NOTE:   Please see copyright notice for this site.  Spread the word, but have some sense.  When sharing this information, please do it in order to help this family and not hurt them.  This is not provided for you to profit off of, to scrape content for your own book publication (fiction or nonfiction), nor otherwise provided for you to exploit the struggles of this family by “borrowing” their words in any way, shape or form.
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Comments

  1. says

    Torrey, thank you for raising the volume for this woman and her husband. The situation is ludicrous, and the worst part is that, as she said, they are one of thousands of families in the same hell. Please tell her thank you for this vivid and disturbing account.

  2. says

    Wow. Thanks for posting such a moving and articulate account of what this family’s going through. We’re indefinitely without power or Internet (post Irene) and I am a million emails behind, but I read every word of this, slowly, and I will definitely repost on Facebook.

  3. Jessica says

    This letter brings me tears in my eyes because I know exactly what you ate going through. May God bless you

  4. The Wife says

    I’m the one who wrote this letter.

    First of all, my thanks to Torrey for posting this letter, and my thanks to everyone who read it. I didn’t write it for posterity (obviously), but because it is only through exposure of the issues that we can seek rectification. Every person who reads this letter is another person who goes to the polls and votes with more clarity, because it is only the Federal government that can change this situation.

    As for an update: After one month, my husband is STILL not in treatment. We have tried to get him into several programs, but the national standard is to refuse admittance if the patient doesn’t have a positive urinalysis (meaning, they aren’t actively using drugs). After all, why waste an inpatient bed on someone who can’t be billed for detoxification as well as rehabilitation? Medicine is about money, after all. They all say “Go to NA or the VA”. God bless corporate medicine.

    We have not given up the fight, but it looks like we have no choice but to let him go back to the drugs and hope that he will still accept treatment once he’s strung out again. I never thought it would come to this.

    I’m thrilled by the woman who printed this letter and sent it to her Congressman. I’m asking everyone who sees this to do the same, and to send it to President Obama as well. Send this letter to your friends by chain e-mails and ask them to pass it on. Please. Please help us. Make our voice louder by shouting along with us. Tell your government representatives and our president that this is not the way you want your veterans treated, that you’re ashamed that this is the way we reward service, that this is not something that should be done in your name. These are your rights, secured by the blood and pain of the service members that have fought for us throughout history. Use these rights. Make noise and make a change. It’s the only thing that ever has.

    Thank you. God bless.

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