Monday, November 11, 2013

The Love Letter Campaign - To the Toughest of Them All



My love letter is written to all the caregivers of the wounded American soldiers.
   
On behalf of all of America, {even the people who haven't taken the time or interest to consider the struggles of families dealing with the wounds of war], I want to say a big thank you for your service.

I know from personal experience what all of you are going through. Although I am an older woman now, I still remember the daily struggle I had to wade through to survive my families problems.
    
My wounded warrior was drafted into the Vietnam war two months after we were married. He was a valiant soldier, and like you, I was as proud of him as I could be. He was handsome, brave, strong and a responsible leader. He was a mans man. 
    
He was in Vietnam for a year, and when he came back home, he was a completely different person than who he was before he left. He was critical of everyone and everything. I thought he was as mean as hell.
    
PTSD. We had never heard of such a thing. The Army never told me there might be some problems ahead for us when he returned home. As far as I know, no one at that time was given a heads up about PTSD.
    
I knew he was wild, uncontrollable, and he had become a daredevil of sorts. To make a long story short, he ended up crippled, walking on crutches, disabled for life, but he was still alive. Thank God!
    
I'm sorry to say the VA was not there for us. He was sent home to me without any help from the VA. Although we tried to apply for assistance, they said his disability was not service connected, and he was not eligible for any assistance from the VA.
    
I took care of him and dealt with his PTSD for thirty-five years by myself, without any help from the ones who were responsible for his condition. Then in 2004 he finally went back to the VA to see if he was eligible to receive some glasses. The VA immediately diagnosed him as having PTSD. The VA has been kind to him ever sense; I'm glad to say.
   
 We struggled many years not knowing what our problem was. I think I would have been better at handling my stress if I had only known he had PTSD. That would have answered so many questions for me, and it would have empowered me to control myself around him.
   
 Before he left for Vietnam, I made a vow to myself to stay by his side, no matter what happened to him in the war, whether he was captured or wounded. I promised myself that I would take care of him, and I have.    
   
 He is still the love of my life. He has been worth all the work and effort I have invested in him. 
   
 I love that man. He is still as wonderful today as he was the day I married him.
 
 I would simply like to encourage each wife or caregiver to a wounded veteran to stay solid, focus on the love you have for your soldier. Your soldier belongs not only to you, but to all of America. 
    
I'm so glad you have national support now. You deserve it.
    
I know you don't have the life of your dreams, neither does your soldier, but you still have each other, and that is the most important thing in life, having the one you love with you.
    
I wrote a book about our life and our struggles. I can't tell you how much that helped my feelings. I highly encourage everyone to put on paper your experience, say your feelings, get them out so you can recognize them and deal with them. It worked for me.
    
In conclusion, I want to say to you, I do love the work you are doing. I know you have the long term, toughest job of all. 

Thanks.

Submitted By: The Survivor

This blog post is part of The Love Letter Campaign... a project started by FamilyOfaVet.com to encourage those who love a hero to write a letter sharing their story (where they started, what they've faced together, and why their love endures). It's not just for spouses, but also for parents, siblings, caregivers, and friends. It's about telling the "rest" of our stories... stories that continue despite PTSD, TBI, and the challenges of life after combat. To share your love letter or find out more about the campaign, visit http://www.familyofavet.com/love_letters.html.

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