I am shaking like a leaf as I am writing this but I hope that once it's out there it might help some one else. Or maybe it will help me make sense of it all.
It's been 10.5 years since it all started. My husband served in Iraq during OIF 2003-2004. At the time we were dating. I had a child already and had child together with him while he was deployed. He left a month after we found out we were expecting. Due to us not being married and the time frame when he was deployed, we knew there would be no way for him to be back for the birth of his son. It was a very difficult time for both of us but we never gave up.
In January '04 he was medically evacuated from Iraq and sent back. I was so happy to have him back , thinking we could start slowly to build a relationship again, raise our children. I never expected what I got though. He wasn't himself no more. Couldn't deal with the kids, couldn't or wouldn't talk to me. He was different. I don't want to say he was broken but in a way, I guess he was. The night terrors were horrific and often he would beat around himself in his sleep and I can't tell you how often I had bruises from it. Eventually, he got his medical discharge and while going through the progress of it all, he was told he had " Major Depression" but PTSD was never mentioned. At that time he was put on a medication but it caused more harm than it did good. It was hard. He also was given one hearing aid by the VA but it hurt him so bad and we requested a different one - never happened. Eventually it got to a point that he just gave up on the VA and he turned to "herbal medication" . As much as I hated it in a way, I loved it too. He finally ate again, he finally slept again, he finally was calm and relaxed but getting a job while you are taking the "herbal medication" is not possible.
In 2005 our oldest son was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism on top of everything else.
In 2007, we moved and I thought maybe the move would help and make a difference. Maybe he would stop self medicating and get help at the VA again. We called, we tried to get appointments , tried to get him seen for his hearing and PTSD. Finally in 2010, he was seen at the VA again , he then was given 2 hearing aids , set up with a psychologist, got medication. This didn't last long. The hearing aids were a blessing but the Mental Health Department still was hell. They gave him the same medication again, set him up with counseling. He went to counseling twice and then gave up. He told him he needs a different medication because of all the side effects he had the last time around with this med. but they ignored him. Frustration got the better of both of us. He would however jump into his work. Worked 60-70 hrs a week - it was his escape because his mind stayed busy and focused on the tasks at work and keep the demons at bay. When he was at home, I watched him closely, saw the demons return whenever he wasn't busy doing something, anything in that matter. Fireworks went off and he would fly under a table, run into a closet, screamed blood and murder. Different movies he watched, the night terrors returned. Still every night flapping like a fish out of water.
In 2007 I got pregnant again and my hubby was the happiest man alive. Finally he would be there from start to end and bring home a little baby boy. But life had other plans, our son was still born at 38 weeks and this put hell on both of us. He burried himself into more work and I was struggling. It was a time in which I was so very close to walk out, walk away but I believed in all a marriage stands for, I love him more then words can say , how can I walk away?! We would get through this and we could do this , we have been through so much why wouldn't shouldn't we walk away from this stronger?!
After loosing our son in 2008 , we were blessed with a daughter in 2009. It was a hard pregnancy - well the pregnancy itself was easy and without complications but for the two of mentally is was hard.
At the end of 2013, I couldn't take it anymore. I was close to a mental breakdown. After him loosing 2 Jobs, struggling financially, not getting appointments at the VA for his hearing aids or waiting 9-12 month for an appointment. I was done. Who do I reach out to , who do I ask for help.He didn't have a set case worker, no Primary Doctor at the VA, nothing.The job he worked in during that time, brought PTSD back with a vengeance and we all struggled being around him. At that time, I wrote the Governor and requested help. It was the best thing I could have done. Within 2 days we had a case manager, we had "the ball rolling". Together we saw the Case Manager, all the papers / medical chart etc. in hand. Right away the case manager was stunned and asked different questions of why we never filed a claim for this or that and as when we told him, we tried and the VA always rejected them he promised us help. Through our private doctor, he was put on a new medication and a sleep aid. HE SLEPT for the first time since self medicating and it was a blessing. The new anti depressant helped too. Things were looking up. He started counseling at the VA but always said how much he hates this counselor. This time, counseling lasted 6 month.
In July , he was strong armed into resigning from his position and currently we are fighting it a long side dealing with a new job and the changes again. He decided to get off his medications "cold turkey" and ones I found out, things got crazy here yet again. No decision has been made on the Claims with the VA but I hope and pray to hear something soon. His hearing loss is getting worse and worse and I am afraid of the day that the hearing will be completely gone. PTSD is a killer in itself and we struggle day in and day out with it and all I can do is pick my battles, try to keep us going. I can't give up on him , or us , or our family.
All I truly want, is for the VA to get their behinds in gear and get to work! Hire an extra audiologist or an other doctor to cover all those who struggle.Have psychologists that are personable and truly understand the struggles of PTSD. Get claims put through in a timely manner and don't push them around for a year or two. It would make such a difference for each Veteran. Too many Veterans are homeless, to many Veterans commit suicide, to many loose their wives and children. Let us spouses or Mom's and Dad's be a part of the treatment. Teach us how to cope too, teach us how to deal with different situations with our Veterans and how to get them through. These man and woman deserve the help. I haven't given up on him, why do you VA ?
love of my life