welcome home deployment

Living with PTSD and TBI: Welcome Home

A site visitor submitted this post, and it represents her experience. 

First, I am married to an Army Reserve soldier diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

My husband served in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a combat medic in Ramadi, Iraq, from 2006-2007. Injuries from the blast of an IED, mixed with the stress of war, the loss of three soldiers, and experiencing the horrors of war, have left me with an empty shell of a man who suffers tremendously from mental wounds.

I wasn’t issued a book from the military – even a book for Dummies would have been nice – upon his return from Iraq. Suddenly our world as a family turned upside down, and it has been this way since his deployment ended three years ago.

Being a weekend warrior, oftentimes, we do not have access to the same resources as active duty personnel.

However, over the past two years, I realized that there aren’t enough resources or help for any of us in any branch.  Most resources I came across had scientific jargon no one could understand, and others repeatedly rehashed that same material.

I wanted to educate myself on the subject, but more importantly, I wanted somewhere to go or someone to talk to who understood what I was going through as a spouse.

I started my blog, “Living With PTSD and TBI”  to self-help myself and hopefully to help other spouses understand and validate the feelings we have for others who are out there like us.

One of the hardest jobs is being married to anyone in service, but it becomes even harder when your soldier comes home from war as a different man.

I know I sent my husband overseas, and I have no idea who returned to me.  Looked like him, sounded like him, but it wasn’t him.

More and more, the taboo subject of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is coming to light with our generation of war. History has already taught us a lesson in PTSD with our Vietnam soldiers, but even today, some veterans still go untreated.

PTSD has been around as long as there have been wars – you may have heard the terms “Soldier’s Heart” or “Shell Shock.” Yep, all PTSD.

The military is trying to gain some control over it mostly because we are seeing more and more suicides and murder-suicides in recent news.

Fort Hood is one of those examples, but sensational news portrays PTSD badly because not all our soldiers are on the verge of going postal.

There has been a high increase in alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic abuse, divorce, and emotional abuse toward children.

The military provides us with some resources and education, but not enough when the spouse suddenly becomes the suffering soldier’s primary caretaker.

It’s especially not working for those of us who aren’t near such resources due to the geographical areas we live in.

The hardest part for most families is getting to the point of seeking help as a soldier and as a family. Then, once all agree help is needed, finding the right resources and getting help is a constant uphill road to travel.

Am I a professional or PTSD guru?

Absolutely not! I have no fancy medical school degree decorating my wall, nor do I have any past experiences other than dealing with my soldier.  I can’t give you advice specifically for your family, but I can give you tips and advice from our family’s perspective.

I can’t solve your problems, but I can empathize with you as I am sure I have been through it too.

I can validate your feelings as a spouse; sometimes, that is more important than any therapy or book you can purchase off the shelf in the self-help section of the library or bookstore.

I will share my ups and downs, talk about subjects that no one wants to bring out in the open, and bear my heavy burden with every one of you.

I will be breaking up my first few blogs into several pieces, so you aren’t spending all day reading!

The first piece of advice I can give you as a Combat PTSD spouse is the “Four L’s,” as I call them. This I learned upon welcoming home my soldier and from other PTSD spouses.

Listen, Learn, Labor and Love


This tip isn’t just for PTSD/TBI veterans but can be for any of our servicemen who are coming back home and having issues with readjustment/reintegration.

Your soldier has just come home from war and has realized that time didn’t stop for us back home. Getting back into the swing of things, especially with family, can be overwhelming.

A spouse must first realize that war is bad, and no matter what your soldier did overseas, he /she probably has seen some stuff that would make anyone cringe.  No one needs to know what happens over there, including the spouse.

Don’t push your soldier into telling you gory details, don’t ask if he killed anyone, and don’t force topics that make them uncomfortable.

More than likely, if they want to talk to you about it, they will in their own time.  If your soldier decides to talk, listen without judging.  Listen with open ears if they feel comfortable talking about even the smallest things.

Just because they went to war, your soldier is not less of a person than before he left.

It’s a survival process; sometimes, they just did what they had to do.  Don’t ask questions if he/she opens up to you.

Let them talk it out; let them stomp and cry if they have to without any interruptions from you.

Let them share what they need to in their own time and open up a bridge of trust between yourself and the soldier, ensuring they can talk to you about anything.

The first step to healing is to let them talk without fear of upsetting you, getting what is on their mind out in the open, and not being judged by their spouse.


Education is always helpful in coping with mental wounds or in any situation.  The only stupid question is not asked.

Learn about reintegration/readjustment issues, and educate yourself on PTSD symptoms and signs, so you know what to look for.

Keep an eye on your soldier for any possible “weirdness” that occurs. You know your soldier better than anyone, and often spouses pick up on things that the soldier did not exhibit before.

Spouses can tell if their soldier seems forgetful, if they are having nightmares/sleepwalking, or if they are changing moods often. Keep a list of such items to refer back to later.

Now I am not saying to stalk your loved one; keep a general eye when you are around them.  Talk to your post/unit chaplain for resources or your FRG leader if you have one.

If not, learn about it online.  Being educated in these subjects will be helpful to you, I promise.

Keeping your soldier in touch with their battle buddies can greatly help.  More than likely, their buddy is having some troubles, too.

Keeping an open line of communication with someone who “has been there” is a key element because they were there together, know what happened, and can freely talk without being judged.

We have my husband’s battle buddy on speed dial on all cells and home phone!  I call from time to time when my husband has episodes and needs to be talked back down a little.

Also, remember that PTSD and TBI symptoms may not show up right away; PTSD can show up many years later.


And you thought deployment was hard! Trying to get into the swing of things as a whole family and facing some issues once they come home is going to be tough, even for those of you who have multiple deployments under your belts.

Marriage and relationships are work, and each of you will have to give and take a little.

Unfortunately, for soldiers with these homecoming problems, giving will be less and less.  This is where you will have to put on your big britches and forge ahead.

As a family/couple, you will need to find your place again in the family unit just as the soldier will.

Adjustment problems are normal, and if they turn into PTSD, you, as a family member or spouse, will have to decide, “Can I take on these problems?”

I often have to remind myself that I married for better or worse, in sickness and health, and I stick by that.

Keep an open line of communication with your family, and ensure that your soldier knows you love them and stand by them.

Sometimes just knowing they have an open line of trust will ward off excessive problems and make the adjustment/re-entry period easier for all of you.

Remember that PTSD has a stigma in the military, although the military claims it no longer carries one. I know, and our soldiers know that isn’t true.

Overcoming issues with your soldier is a part of what you must battle. You will battle the service they are enlisted in, and fight for resources and the help they need.

No one said it was easy, but as in anything, nothing is ever free in life. You have to decide as a family, do you love one another enough to embark on one of the hardest things you have ever faced?


I once read…

All families are like quilts. Although they can unravel at times, love can stitch them back together.”

As corny as that seems, love can hold many things together.  Show your soldier that you care and want to help.

Don’t force help on him or make demands, as this can sometimes make issues worse.

If your soldier needs help, research and provide options for him and your family.  Yelling, “You’re crazy, and you need help!” isn’t going to help things.  Provide an outlet and options for them to look at and consider.

Although they might look at you like you’re the crazy one, some of them understand they are having problems whether they admit to it or not.

Sometimes admitting they need help is the hardest part. Be supportive, strong, and firm, and show your soldier that your love for them will carry them through.

Letting them know you see issues you are concerned about and that you want to help can sometimes be the one thing they rely on and shows them that you have their back.

Love yourself by taking some time for yourself as a spouse. Love your children, and make sure they are not pushed to the side during all this.

I hope this helps some of you as it has helped me.  Again, I am in no way a professional, and just like you, I am fumbling in the dark with my soldier as we are searching and exploring help for him.

In my next blog, I will discuss my soldier’s symptoms and the things we faced once he came home.

Each service member and family experiences different things, and by giving you ours and Jessica’s, we hope this will educate, help, and give you a little more support.

You are not alone!!!!

Until Next Time,

Uncle Sam’s Mistress

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This article was written by a visitor to the site. All of our contributors served in the military, are married to someone who serves in the military, or have a child who serves in the military. These Army soldiers and/or family members enjoy helping others by sharing their experiences.

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  1. Dear Uncle Sam’s Mistress,
    Thank you so very much for writing a helpful and needed blog about how to help those we love with PTSD. My husband served in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm in 1990-91. His term in the Army ended in July ’91, and though he desperately loved being a soldier, he knew that if he stayed in, the Army would become his wife instead of me. I respect the courage it has taken all these years to forge ahead in life, even though his “mistress” the Army, has been waiting for him in the shadows. My husband has PTSD and also ended up with severe headaches that come on suddenly, like a seizure. He is now considered unemployable and has been medically retired, or labeled as 100% disabled, since 2000.
    Coping with the first ten years, with little information and help was harder than I can describe. However, the four L’s you mention are exactly what I did to help him through it. He has told me so many times that if it weren’t for me, he would have ended his life long ago because it is so hard to be here (in society and not in the Army).
    What I have to offer here is hope. We made it through the hardest times and have settled into routines that help keep the stress levels lower and the happy times more frequent. I love this man with all my heart and am simply not willing to ever give up. We are in the process of getting him a Service Dog, which has been found to significantly help those with PTSD. Already, I can see the incredible, confident, brave soldier I know come through, just knowing he won’t be alone every day while I’m at work.
    There is so much more to say, but most of all, I want to say thanks. When this all started for me, blogs were just beginning and I just didn’t know how to reach out and share the hardships and successes of living with a man with PTSD. Your time spent blogging will help countless others.
    Bless you.

    1. Thank you so much for your positive and supportive comment! My husband often tells me that if it wasn’t for me keeping him grounded, that he would end his fight with PTSD. That comment scares the hell out of me. I have had to deal with this all by myself like you without any military or personal support, so blogging was just one of those ways to get it all out. I am hoping that my words will reach spouses like me or family members, and that no one has to deal with this by themselves. The load as you know, can become very tiresome and mentally exhausting. I have read many resources in regards to the service dogs and we applied for one as well. I do hope that your husband gets approved. Of course, it’s not a cure all for anyone but can help them focus and keep them grounded especially when some of the harder symptoms rear their ugly heads. Routines are extremely important especially for their Vet and I have learned as well this can keep some of the monsters at bay so I am glad you reminded me of this!! Please do feel free to jump in with additional ideas, coping skills and problems you have encountered. We are all different so the more we can stock our arsenal of PTSD education and resources, the better!!! Many thanks and hugs to you~ USM

    2. Hey are you with warriorspromise.org? I saw it on your comment that the website was there. I have this site bookmarked to go back and look at to see if I wanted to add that to my personal blog. Thought you could give me some input on it!! Thanks! USM

  2. I really appreciate your braveness to come out and try to get help. Many suffer in silence. I did. My dad came back from Nam a disaster and no one was there to help him. I felt alone so because of that I wrote WAR DAD by JUJU SANDS. I plan to help the children of war. How are the kids supposed to cope with a different parent?


    1. The most saddening aspect of PTSD/TBI is if there are children within the home. If they are old enough to remember dad prior to war, then they are so heavily disappointed and confused. I know in my oldest, this has caused some emotional difficulties, huge amounts of resentment, and most definitely anger. No matter the age of the child, there isn’t a real way to explain to them why daddy is the way he is. I have tried to explain it to my pre-teen who is going on 30, but he still has that block that says “well he was fine before Iraq”. If they are younger, then they just think this is normal and mine are mirroring the anger and outbursts. I think I could handle my husband better as a single individual, but the hardest part is making up for Dad, being the mom, caregiver, and trying to cushion my husband away from the world on top of padding my children when their hopes come crashing down. Thank you for the comment……

  3. You are a wonderful wealth of sassy, brassy and cute intelligently rolled up in a powerful package of dynamite. To bad Uncle Sam has you all tied up, lol. Your warrior is a lucky man to have such a fierce mother warrior to stand together. I love to read your articles, even though I cannot stop crying while reading them. It helps me to understand what my family went through and has allowed me to regain a measure of sanity (er…did I say that?).

    To all Combat PTSD Soldiers, Veterans, Families and Caregivers:

    Uncle Sam’s Mistress is the real deal; she is a certifiable treasure to the Combat PTSD Community. Her intuitive stumbling and our subsequent conversations were the inspiration for the name of my latest mission;

    Stumbling Vision,

    Mission: Bring together the most comprehensive understanding of Combat PTSD. This involves every family member getting a voice. I am building a Coalition of Combat PTSD Bloggers (CCPB) to lend a better understanding of what combat can do to a family and community.

    Uncle Sam’s Mistress is a valuable resource for inspiration and intuitive no nonsense suggestions on what she faces daily.

    1. PTSD: a Soldier’s Perspective, if not for you…I probably would not be pushing so hard for our families to have a voice or be writing at all. I was down and out one day and considered chunking my whole blog when your invitation came along. Your encouragement, support and forgiveness for non-editing (hahah) has given me a new lift myself. You gave me another venue to voice besides my own blog and pushed to me to new limits and readers. To be able to reach Combat PTSD Veterans and have them comment on my stories, is a huge deal as I am hoping that it will help them realize how much they are missing out on their families. For that, I am forever thankful for. I am very proud to say I write for the Coalition of Combat PTSD Bloggers and more proud to say you are my friend. You site is a wealth of information and together we will hopefully build our arsenal as you call it, of PTSD resources and information for everyone. I will continue to write, support and be the cheerleader for your vision and together we will stumble around until we get it right!! You keep leaving comments like this for me, I am gonna get an ego the size of Texas!! Many Hugs to you S, ~Uncle Sam’s Mistress~

  4. Dear Uncle Sam’s Mistress:
    My boyfriend just finished his tour in Iraq, but he went home for Christmas to see his family he hasn’t seen in 3 years. We are still far away. They live on the other side of the world right now. I knew that it would be hard, and now since he’s been out for the past week or so, I have noticed changes in our conversations. One day it’s we need to talk about our relationship and the next day is, “I miss you so much” and “I need you.” Tonight he text me and questioned me for the 4th time, “why do you love me so much? why me?” I am still the sweet girl that has been waiting for him all year, (we got to see each other for 2 weeks back in July). I tell him all the many reasons that I love him. I told him tonight that I have been here the whole time supporting his duty and loving him and I am always here for him. Our love for each other is very strong, but after reading articles about PTSD, I realized this is what he’s going through. You see I don’t know what’s going on with his family. He told me how much they love me and how much he loves me…but I just know in the back of his mind he is questioning “something.” I just reassure him b/c that’s all I can do from here. I expect him home in about a month and I told him that once we are in each other’s arms again everything will be OK. I love him so much and we have talked about marriage and our future…but I’m not putting any pressure about that at all right now. I’m just here for him. He called me when it’s was 5a.m. where he was and 10p.m. where I am and said he couldn’t sleep and he couldn’t stop thinking. The “thinking” I was afraid to ask b/c it could be many things…I know our relationship is one topic; but once I turned on my camera on the computer and we kept talking everything was alright. He told me that one of the reasons that he loves me so much is b/c I listen to him. I know now that’s all I can do is listen to him and reassure him. I’m afraid to tell him that he may have PTSD, but I was able to tell him that he has gone into 3 different time zones within one week so his circadian rhythm was off and causes extra stress and fatigue. I told him to have a nice vacation with his family and send them my love and I am waiting for him to come back to me so I can take care of him. Every day is a different day…but I just can’t bare to loose him.

  5. My husband was diagnosed with PTSD after his 2nd deployment and also with tbi shortly after his return. I only noticed small changes and he said he was fine and I believed him. I started noticing more changes like us not going to public places and our emotional connection had changed. He progressively has gotten more and more depressed and drinking more often. He came down on orders to Afghanistan again and I left to go home to be with family. Last month he was complaining of headaches, they did a cat scan and found swelling on his brain. He had to have his skull drilled to relieve the pressure (just before he deployed. You would think they wouldn’t deploy after a surgery like that, but no.) he kept telling me it wasn’t that big of a deal and he felt fine. Well now after being deployed he e-mailed me saying he’s being discharged from the army for being bipolar. My husband isn’t bipolar he’s never ever showed any signs of it till after this surgery. Now he’s angry and depressed all the time. He does not want to talk to me and saying things like he never loved me and asking for a divorce. When just last week he called me saying he loved me, missed me more than anything and wanted me to rub my bell for him. (I’m 8 months pregnant) I can’t help but think this surgery has something to do with this sudden change of behavior do you think the surgery could be the cause of this new anger and emotionless person who my husband has become? And how do I get help being so far away from him. Me being in Washington state and him on his way back to ft. Campbell ky. To be discharged.


  6. My husband and I just recently got married this last February 2011. We are both 35 and have know each other since high school. We have just been really good friends until 2 years ago. He has been deployed 3 times and was diagnosed with ptsd in 2006 and just diagnosed with tbi in April 2011. I have noticed his temper here and there but it is starting to increase and of coarse everytime he calms down he continues to tell me that he is sorry for putting me through everything that he says to me and blames me for,etc………. He is on a medication for his temper but it doesnt seem to be working cause he is still yelling at me, putting me down. He is also on medication for having nightmares and having headaches. My husband has never hit me just all yelling, putting down and blaming me. When he starts to get upset and if he has to go to work he can text me anywhere between 50-200 times throughout the day and they are all mean msgs. In the morning I have to say Good Morning and I have to give him a kiss or else he gets mad and starts to be rude and continues to say something is wrong with me. He says its a feeling of being loved and when I dont kiss him, lay on him, hold his hand, etc… he feels that something is wrong with me and I dont love him so he gets mad and yells. My children, my mother and even my best friend have heard him. I just dont know what to do anymore because he will yell one day and then next day say sorry and then give it a week and he is doing it again. He tells me to help him, I have told him I am not a professional and cant help him with something I know nothing about. I have been here for him through everything since high school but am now questioning if I can do this anymore. Just was looking for some hints or maybe just to talk to another military wife going thru the same kind of situation.

    1. Ann, If you are still watching this old post, can you tell me how or if you were able to make it through this? I have been looking through so many posts for someone else who is experiencing something even close to what we are going through. My husband served in Iraq and has gradually increased in his symptoms. He is now required to go to therapy for alcohol and just started a new med that is supposed to help. One minute he is happy to be married (we’ve known each other for 9 years, married for 5), and the next I am the source of all his problems. He has started recreating PSTD episodes that happened and turned them around so I am the initiator and he is a victim. These are incidences that he has previously apologized for and promised to seek help. He has called my sister before and told her I was chasing him with knives!!! I am very discouraged. We used to be on the same team supporting his recovery and I feel like this has turned in the last year to me being the source of all of his problems. At least some of the time. The rest he doesn’t talk about it and is buying me flowers and telling me how much he loves me. I am waiting, he started Abilify a month ago and has a follow up apt. soon. But seriously, I do not know how much longer I can handle the love of my life thinking I am the source of his problems all the time. I mean, I know that I am not, but it is hard to be with someone who at least half of the time thinks that you are. I try to separate the disease from the person but I am really starting to get discouraged. We have kids that would be devastated if we separated for a little while especially since he would not be allowed to visit them unaccompanied. If you or anyone else has gone through something similar and is either on the other side or still staying the course, I would love to hear about it. I feel very alone in this.

  7. Hi everyone
    My story is about the same topic “my husband has p.t.s.d.”. This year has been the hardest. I met my husband right after he came home from deployment in Iraq 2003 -2004 a 15 month tour. I did not know my husband before Iraq. However, I saw the signs of him different than any other boyfriend, when the nightmares would come, the migraine headaches, anxiety, paranoia and especially how he would roll his eyes in a scary way when we would just be sitting relaxing watching t.v. At first I though he was weird. I thought he was just playing with me. But not long after he told me about a good friend he lost in Iraq. And how he feels responsible that it should have been him not his friend. His friend had a wife, children. My husband did not. Not long after the signs kept getting worse. I quit my job after 13 years with excellent pay after having our first child to stay home with her. After being with my husband now seven years 2 beautiful children later and loosing his job over and over again. This year was just the breaking point. My husband has always taken medication and was seeing doctors at the V.A. But my husband was not getting the proper help he needed. After loosing his third job Dec.2010. I think he noticed how bad things were going on in our family. We moved out of state to live with his brother, we were basically homeless. My husband started getting sicker. He went to the V.A. Here in our town since we could not afford his doctors visits and test, medications he was taking. I have to say this was probably meant to be… My husband has never got the help he is getting here at this V.A. Hospital. His case manager is very helpful and everyone here seems to show they care about getting my husband well. They are taking lots of tests, giving him the right medication, he will be going into the 7-Week program to get more help with dealing with his p.t.s.d. I just wanted to say that things have been so,hard for our family we went from living a good life to hitting rock bottom. We are barely making it now. But I can see 2012 being a much better year for us all. I just wanted to say that Iam educating myself to better understand my husbands diseases because it has taken a toll on our marriage. I love my husband and he knows I do. I have just been trying to deal with everything as best as I can but I do have resentment and anger so I have started to find these websites and blogs to educate myself because I know my husband is a wonderful man. He does not drink or he is not violent but he has so many other issues that are just hard for me to deal with or understand on my own. Or to find someone who understands what Iam going threw. My question is are there any other husbands out there who do not drink or who are not violent going through the same thing? I just don’t want to be labeled as different because of this question. I’m just looking for answers to help my family like any other wife. If anyone can help please do. Thank you for reading my story and thank you for posting your story’s they really make me feel like I’m not going crazy. Thank you

    1. Dear Lomire, I believe you have been to my site as I recognize your name. First off, stop and remember one thing: Every Veteran is different. There are no two alike, although many have some of the same issues. There will always be differences though and that’s because of personality traits, temperance, severity of the PTSD and the list could go on. In much of my writing, I try to be as focused as I can on certian topics that come in my inbox or questions like yours, but we are Severe PTSD and Moderate to Severe TBI. Mixing the two can cause overlapping issues with one Vet compared to that of another who just has PTSD. I can for sure, tell you there are many who do not find solace at the end of a bottle, there are many who are not physically abusive. In any of their symptoms no matter what, much of your old husband is a 360 of who they used to be. Some men find cheating a way to reach their adrenaline rush they seek, some find pornography an easy outlet or drugs, some react in a verbal or physical way, and others steal things. There are many ways to place a stigma on all Veterans, but no one is alike I can promise you. The first suggestion I have to you is stop and breathe. Understand what has happened to your Veteran isn’t his fault or that he is crazy etc. Education is something I heavily advocate on my site and many others because you can’t fight the unknown if you aren’t prepared. When you are educating yourself, know that their thinking and their minds have become distorted from not only trauma, but the way they were taught to think and react, forcing to challenge their morals,and once they see war…they will never see the same things again. These guys carry a ton of baggage when they come home that they just can’t unload. Second, while you are learning don’t put so much on yourself because much of it you will learn on your own and in time. Much will be gained from your just paying attention. Try to learn what makes him depressed, upset, agitated, or as I call it..foaming at the mouth. PTSD can come at any time, showing up even if the spouse thinks the “all clear” is given. He may just be very good at hiding much of it from you from the beginning. Thirdly, know that while you are learning…each of you is going to make mistakes and he is going to screw up. It’s just all part of it. What you do from those mistakes, is up to you. Now, you mentioned the VA and health care. The thing you have to remember with that, is unless you are going with him and physically sitting there and listening..he may not be telling the doctor all that is going on with him. Reason is, he may still be in denial, doesn’t want to talk about past ghosts of war because he thinks that is what will happen, or doesn’t want anymore medication. Other possibilities are that he just doesn’t, in his mind, knows much of what goes on. Many Veterans write in and expect the doctor to say well we are going to give you this pill to help treat symptoms. In their newly distorted thinking processes from the PTSD its “You aren’t taking it away, one pill or 20 is not going to help me, and you aren’t doing anything for me”. To be honest, the VA will be your largest hurdle. If he isn’t telling them all what’s going on, like in your other comment about the compulsive spending (which is quite common among all of them) you can’t expect anyone to guess nor would you want to. Now, that being said, if he is and they aren’t giving him any type of treatment…he needs to switch doctors. I will continue this in the next comment. Sometimes it will not let me post all of it and I lose all I wrote! I have kids to get on the bus, so may take me a little bit to finish. <3

    2. OK so this is where you guys are going to have to come together, on a good day with him, and make some mutual decisions. You will be his first, his last and his only advocate when it comes to his mental health care. If he doesn’t like his doctor, talk to the OIF/OEF Clinic caseworker/manager you have and switch. Pay attention to the meds they are giving him, know the signs and side effects. IF he will allow it, see if he will let you come to an appointment and talk with the doctor. You can do this by assuring him that you only want to ensure that they understand the issues that he is facing at home. Some will, some don’t. It will come with time for him. This is NOT a time if he lets you, do go in there and berate him, fuss and cuss, flood the doctor with complaints. Make a list, keep it short and simple or the doctor you will lose their attention. If he suffering from inability to pay attention, focus, lacks motivation, depressed, manic or obsessive on some things, agitated on certain things…then those are things they need to know. This is not time to talk about marital problems. This will need to be addressed through marriage or family counseling. Medications are not always going to be the answer though. He needs to utilize any services they offer like vocational rehab, group therapy if they offer for veterans, cognitive therapy, or one on one with a psychiatrist. Don’t be pushy with your husband, but damn sure be pushy with the VA. Utilize the Vet Center. Many like this part of it because these guys are all Veterans themselves, many many with deployments under their belt. They also provide counseling for you as well if it relates to your husband’s PTSD. If not, and you need one on one, every Vet Center has a family therapist now. Much of what you will go through is simply trial and error. Knowing his triggers, working around them, and working together is the only way he will get through it. It’s not going to go away, he will always have issues. However, they will become manageable, easier to cope with and eventually you will gain your footing and grip in what is right now, an upside down world. It is ok to be angry, to grieve, to be selfish and put your needs up front as well. He needs to know that you will be there for him, hold his hand through it all…however, you will NOT carry him. It isn’t fair to you, or to any children you have. Place expectations on him that you know he is capable of but not ones that he isn’t. Therapy once a week will benefit him and don’t be afraid to push it. Remember that some, need to fall to their knees before they can get up and walk again. It’s a rough road but you are most definitely not alone. As for job wise, if he keeps losing jobs this needs to be brought up to the primary and psych team that is assigned to him. This can mean that his PTSD is making him unemployable. Also, if you are home, and he needs daily assistance, you may qualify for the new VA Caregiver program which covers those of us who are home and caring for our veterans whether it be physical or psychological injuries. You will need to call your VA, hit the operator and ask to speak to the VA Caregiver Program Coordinator. Here you can ask questions. I usually stay away from the 1-800 number just because every case is different and they may tell you no when the Coordinator says yes. I hope this helps. Keep learning, be strong, take care of yourself and let your needs be just as equal to his. This is something I am currently working on for myself and let me tell you…all the stress has taken its toll on me. Off to answer your other comment. For everyone, I apologize that I did not get notifications of the comments listed here. Usually I get emails. I can always be found on Facebook under Living with PTSD and TBI or facebook/Unclesamsmistress. I of course, can also be found at my site wwww.armyreservistwife.blogspot.com

    3. USM,
      I just wanted to tell you, Thank You for replying. You said a lot of good things that i needed to know. The funny part is i have been hearing the same thing through a couple of people and books. The problem with me is when the botton falls off we (me) thinks that everything is over. My marriage, my life my husbands and our children. But the truth is it only becomes stonger we become stronger (women) me and my husband and our family. My husbands case manager at the V.A. told me about the caregiver program i just applied. Thank You for giving me links to go to and visit. Its just a hard road for my family and im just trying to learn how to best deal with everything without falling apart. My husband just left November 27th to Seattle Wa for the Meb Board so im hoping and praying for a miracle this christmas. Merry Christmas to You and Your Family. Keep Strong. I always love comming to your blog page.:)Thank You again for your help.

    4. My husband has about the same symptoms from his PTSD. Anger, headaches, insomnia. I have absorbed the yelling and years of being put down after trying so hard, but the hardest thing for me is being rejected. I try to help, but like most of us I am not an expert. My husband is constantly on the computer and for the most part he likes to debate, but I know he has a history of looking at porn. That upsets me, but I still love and care for him very deeply. He likes to go to the vfw to identify with other soldiers. He will have a beer with them, but it’s bait once a month. For the past month or so he has avoided and barely talked to me. When I asked about it he would get upset and tell me that he is talking to me. We went to dinner on sat and he was on his iPhone almost the entire time. He didn’t talk to me or my kids. Sunday I asked him why he is shutting me out and he told me he can’t do this anymore. He said he has not been happy since 2007 and that he wants a divorce. I told him that I love him and I want to see a counselor. Initially he said he doesn’t want to as he doesn’t believe it will help. He had a huge flare up and drove himself to the VA ER. He told them he was angry and they twisted this into he is homicidal. They called the va police and instead of treating him, they arrested him. He said they wanted to hold him for 3 days and he refused. If the va truly thought he was homicidal why didn’t they place him under a 5150 and help him, not arrest him? If this the kind of “service” the VA “professionals” do, no wonder there are so many suicides. When I called the VA they told me my husband was never seen and I about had an MI as he told me has tried to commit suicide. I had to probe nurse Darren to give me more info. My husband came home, I gave him a big hug and a kiss. He told me that he needs some space. I have been yelled at, put down for many years but the rejection is killing me. My kids are scared as they know something is wrong with daddy, so I have to be strong for them. I can’t eat, can’t sleep and I feel like I am so confused right now. I want to help him, but he blames me for everything and I am trying not to lose my mind as I have supported him every step of the way. I served 4 years in the army as well, so I have some understanding, but it’s been one hell of a tough week. I am walking on eggshells and I am losing my balance. Any suggestions?

  8. Hello!
    I have a quick question for you, could you email me when you have a chance? Thanks! -Heather

  9. Thank you for sharing. So my husband was recently diagnosed with PTSD and is getting testing for TBI. But this is heavy to my heart, because like you said they come home a shell. My husband deployed in 2009-2010. He was angry all the time and really began to withdraw from the family. After an event in the home the police were called and he had no choice to get help, because prior I went to ACS to get help and because he wasn’t physically abusing me they would not help. SO I tried to get help off base and my husband went twice and would deny anything was wrong.
    Today I am thankful for the help he is recieveing, but it is sad to see after all these years the military does not make everyone returning from war go through some kind of PTSD treatment and include the families so they know what to look for. I believe it would lead to a lot less drug abuse, substance abuse, suicides, divorce, child abuse and domestic violence. Through my personal experience there was no support for the family as my husband was gone for three months in intensive PTSD treatment. That should be different as well.

  10. CODA Meetings are heald all over the world, you should look them up.
    If you do not have CODA in your city, then you can purchase the book of twelve steps. I find that having a good support group is efficient,such as Church, or Therapy groups.

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