A reader posted a question and shared her struggle with her husband’s post-traumatic stress disorder on the Spouse Calls blog:
Q: My husband and I have been married 18 years. He joined the military at 34 years old. We were having problems before he joined, but I thought it brought us closer. Anyway, he was in Iraq for three months, then sent to Walter Reed with PTSD. He kept in contact with me until he was moved into the Malone House. I went up for the weekend and he treated me horribly. I felt as if I was somewhere I wasn’t wanted. Then a week later he told me he didn’t want me in his life.
I feel so alone — the military became such a big part of my life at an older age than most, but I feel as though that also helped me appreciate it more. I feel as though the spouses are forgotten when we also go through a lot of mental pain. I wish I could make my husband understand what he has done to me. I have a lot of respect for what he has done for our country, but that is separate from our 18-year marriage. He is on all kinds of medications, and that could have something to do with it.
Sometimes I wish someone in the military would care about where the spouses are coming from. I know this happens all the time, but it seems to me they are taught a Code of Honor; shouldn’t they back it up? I feel as though I have been forgotten. Just thought I would see if you could give me some advice.
— Cav Scout Wife
A: As you are experiencing, combat trauma affects the whole family.
Please find a trusted professional counselor. Although you feel alone, there are many people who do care. If you live near a base or post, you can go to a chaplain, the clinic, or family center for help in finding a counselor.
Face-to-face counseling is also available at no cost to you through Military One Source. For more information, go to militaryonesource.com. Look below the banner and click on “In-Person Counseling.” You can be referred to a professional counselor in your area. You can also call 1-800-342-9647 to talk with someone who will guide you through the process.
It is important to speak with someone who is familiar with military life and its traumas. Connect with trusted friends and family and let them know what you are going through. Keep reaching out. There are people who do care and want to help you.
As you mentioned, the medications your husband is taking could certainly affect his judgment, as does the disorder itself. Talk to someone and give your husband time for healing and treatment before you make a life-changing decision.
Next week I’ll have more information on this important subject: An interview with Dr. Aphrodite Matsakis, author of “Back from the Front: Combat Trauma, Love, and the Family.”